Anthony you were a genius; an enigma and my hero.
May you rest in peace dining in heaven with angels.
You will be forever missed.
Anthony you were a genius; an enigma and my hero.
May you rest in peace dining in heaven with angels.
You will be forever missed.
Those of you who follow my blog will be well acquainted with my poetry.
However today, I thought it was time to dedicate a chapter entirely to this form of expression, and to publish some new and unseen material which also celebrates that old skool thang called handwriting ;P
Head over to the POETRY page to see more ♥
Instagram, you've just gone ick.
Loved you but I'm leaving you friend, your new change in service is just not up my alley.
I'm not taking part in Ai- honestly it gives me the creeps and makes me mad. We struggle to employ and give purpose to humanity as is, why in God's name are we interested in giving jobs to things which don't have families to feed, relationships to foster or spirits to nurture??
I admit, my desire to share my life and loves all came to a grinding halt with the birth of Adira, but things had been festering towards that build up. My latest experience on social media had left me feeling much like my short stint on Facebook a few years ago. I didn't like the negative backlash; the jealousy, the envy and the 'measuring up' of what we have or have not. The hours whittled away geezing at Kim K's ass or Kylie Jenner's latest makeup was fun I admit, especially when I'd succumbed to morning sickness; but really it's all brain fluff and it just fills my noggin with ideas that block my own creativity.
Friends started calling less, and even those closest to me took posts as enough of a catch up. But most of all, I've gotta say, I don't like other people having any 'ownership' or 'share-ship' over my identity, snapshots or creative output. Am I a control freak or am I just careful?
I don't like the big picture further down the line with either Ai, social media or where our privacy laws are going, and I'm definitely not going to take a gamble on my predictions with my daughter.
I remember many posts ago making a comment similar to this "if we can acertain what someone likes and loves, we can in turn figure out what they hate, and with this information we can manipulate and control others". We are quietly and naively giving people authority to control our thoughts, our feeling and through this our actions. We are feeding psycological/ spiritual warfare; locally, governmentally, globally. Those innocent 'likes' have sinister ramifications.
Yes spiritual- these seemingly innocuous apps are quietly crucifying us. They breed negativity and divert us from finding our own purpose. We're getting sucked into immaterial and superficial untruths and we're increasingly complacent about these changes and compliant to them once they are revealed. Ulterior motives seem more prevalent than ever and sinister motivations by governments and mega corporations are infiltrating our communities. I don't like being tracked and recognised wherever I go, I abhor the demise in real communication; I don't want to be a part of environments where this is normalised. New Zealand's developments are immensely concerning; Research the GCSB and what liberties they can take upon you... research Project Speargun in Auckland...
So, there's more than enough info for people to see or get lost in about me here on my website. I've never found any increase in my sales as an artist by having Insta- although any man and his hairy dog would like to tell you otherwise, and I had a fantastic feed. In my experience, again the nasty outweighed the beneficial, and I feel relieved to have cut ties. It won't be long until like Facebook you will not be able to delete your account, I'm happy I got in when I did and removed my data. All props to you if you've got 40K followers and you're making cachinga off them- it's not my life path, it doesn't make me buzz.
Technology inevitably becomes obsolete; people don't. I got tired of continually feeding Insta- at some point you're going to get over it aren't you, it's a fad. It's awful having people get nasty about skill, talents and passions I've taken years to develop and master, but that's half the problem with these things- there's no history or continuity given, and for me, once I put my account onto private to combat this negativity, the whole point of it is useless- it's no longer a collection available for people around the world to be inspired by.
That shit is just scary.
Insta, ya made me feel like when I stoped smoking cigarettes. I loved smoking, still very occasionally do, but back then I remember the price had just got hiked to over $20NZD a pack of 20's, all the gorgeous gold embossed packaging had been subjected to government standards with heinous photos of lungs with cancerous tumors and photos of smokers teeth, and I woke up one day and I was just over having to always find a lighter. I was leaving the house and I couldn't find my fags and paraphernalia. That was it, I'd faded out. It had gone from being a sexy subversive pastime to being a chore.
Instagram was similar- it's so nice to be back to being in the moment. Making gorgeous food and taking a breath to be thankful rather than setting up the plates to photoshoot. Watching the sunset with my buba in arms rather than running around trying to find my partner's phone with the better camera. Watching a gig rather than watching it through a lens. Visualising and caring about what I like, rather than being intrigued by who 'liked'.
That's the fascinating thing about the human condition to be intent; to be purposeful; to be dedicated; to be passionate; to be addicted; we can choose, we can redirect our choices and through this grow in the manners we so decide.
Growth for these new generations means working through an increasing amount of lies, untruths, misguided information and people making a buck. It is no longer about finding information as such, my daughter's generation is going to need highly refined skills about how to filter and block out things they don't want impacting upon their psyche, waylaying them academically or potentially hurting them- either by others or more sadly through themselves and their esteem, identities and spirits. They will need to be intently selective about where they want to go and what they need to get there.
Over the last few months I got rather crafty and crochet'd Adira jumpers, jackets and booties.
I loved doing it so much I'm now taking orders! email@example.com
(above) - 'Minxy Matinee', Black NZ merino, 0-3 months.
Everything else pales in comparison.
Undoubtably my most incredible collaborative masterpiece- the beautiful Adira Isla, (formerly known as 'Glinkle'!).
My partner and I are so very exited to announce we are expecting! Undoubtably the most involved, detailed and creative masterpiece I have ever collaborated on- we are so excited to meet our wee girl, nicknamed 'Glinkle' in late March/ early April.
The first four months of my pregnancy were rather challenging with intense 'morning' (ahem- lol, more like all day!) sickness. My empathy and compassion is deep and unreserved for women who experience this either briefly or for much more extended periods- it can be extremely challenging times making a human!
My incredible partner is an angel. I actually cannot articulate how much his love and support has been unwavering and all encompassing during these bumpy patches; I am so blessed to share my life with a man of such integrity, kindness, and compassion... not to mention creativity! These last few weeks have provided an opportunity for his creative skills to flourish- in particular, masterpieces created out of my favourite fruit kiwifruit!
As our gift to you this silly season, we share the giggles and joy from these artworks. May they inspire and make you laugh. Press play and please click on the individual photos- the titles are as hilarious as the creations.
For daily postings and the stories that go with the titles, follow me at @moenamoxham
Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and the very sparkliest of wishes for 2018!
💚 🥝 💚 🥝💚🥝💚🥝💚🥝💚🥝💚🥝💚🥝💚🥝💚🥝💚🥝 💚 🥝 💚
Space travel, exploration, astrophysics, engineering and astrology are topics of knowledge and fields of development which are very close to my heart. I've always been fascinated with what's above and beyond and how things work.
Those of you who follow me on Instagram will have seen highlights of these passions in my trips to observatories, planetariums and recently to NASA in Cape Canaveral. It's also what drives my passion for flying, aviation and adventure.
Living in New Zealand allows me a luxurious and accessible view to the Milky Way. The night skies are clear enough in my beloved hometown of Wellington to see this; the stars, planets and other occurrences with the naked eye. A rare privilege for a city within a developed nation. Over my life I have seen meteor showers, comets, total eclipses, amazing alignments of the planets and on more than one occasion the Aurora Australis or Southern Lights. An hour out of town to the Wairarapa or Kapiti Coast expands upon these depths with low light pollution. Go further afield down South to the beautiful Lake Tekapo area in the Mackenzie district; a world heritage sight because of it's clean night skies, and you will find a place where it is impossible for the mind not to be enraptured with 'what if's', 'how's' and other questions about our world, ourselves and our place within the universe. Declared the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve by the International Dark-Sky Association, it is one of only four such reserves around the world.
Astrology to me is mesmerising. The simple (& immensely complicated) detail that whatever we see is past information really blows my mind. Any image no longer exists because of the nature of time, movement & space. Even the minuscule processing time of seeing an image and our brain flipping it means that once we comprehend it, it's not in the same order, space or position it was- although to us this feels instantaneous. We look at the stars, but we are actually looking at the past. It takes light years for those glinkes to reach our eyeballs. Our concepts, our snapshots of our world are working in retrospect.
What we have discovered and what we can see now delves past our galaxy- 'The Milky Way' and down two arms of this out through deep space. At this stage we believe we can only see in two directions from our galaxy, the other two are obscured by another arm of The Milky Way and the suspected black hole at the centre. We can now 'see' back and out to the edge to the remnants of what we suspect started all of it- 'The Big Bang' 💥... or that's what we have theorised so far.
Back to the beginning- we are looking back to the beginning, but our hypothesises are based on past information. We have a glimpse of what was, what potentially things looked like- but we really have a very small understanding of exactly what is right now.
Here's a philosophical nutcracker- It's a fascinating conundrum to ponder the following concept: if everything we see is past, and the further we look the older it is, when we turn that around then the only concept of future lies within us, within our visions and within our dreams. Is it absurd to believe that our conceptualisations are more alive than snapshots of memories?
It's extremely exciting stuff as of now in 2017 with the race for commercial space investment in full swing with private companies and entrepreneurs jostling to be the first to get more (wo)men and sustainable technology onto the Moon, to Mars and to develop and sustain orbiting habitable spaces. The world's fist trillionaires will come from these feats and although these endeavours are entrancing the minds of millions and are promoted as advancing the development of humanity- there is a much darker side to the realities of what these pursuits mean also. Since the beginning of explorations and migrations we have wanted to advance our race; to exchange, to mingle, to find new resources and to make money and sell things.
The main reason for getting to the Moon, Mars & capture meteorites is to mine for their resources. Helium-3 gas exists under the surface of the Moon- this is the missing puzzle piece in nuclear fusion- the holy-tamoli of energy technology that humans have been trying to master for decades. ((See a fav movie of mine Particle Fever for info about CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research). A place where physicists and engineers are probing the fundamental structure of the universe. They use the world's largest and most complex scientific instruments to study the basic constituents of matter- the fundamental particles and the effects of nuclear fusion.)) There are other magnificent things to learn and developments that will happen because of these discoveries and inquiries, yet have no misunderstanding of what the big hitters are financing, particularly from the private funding arena; why they are investing billions of their mega bucks- it ain't primarily for peace… but rather prosperity.
Peace and prosperity… it’s an alluring paradox. For prosperity requires us to find things to continue feeding our needs for energy, consumption and financial gain; conflict and war circles around a lot of these endeavours. Peace.. living in harmony with the Earth and not exploiting her; ‘living within means’ contradicts the very meaning of fortune, profitability and wealth.
Have we not learnt our lessons!? Some shout, those who can settle for enough are a minority and increasingly so- with more information, with more things to see to want, we are increasingly wanting to be wealthy and prosperous. Big money is not made by projects that fundamentals lie in 'living within means'. Are we hell bent on exploiting every natural resource that comes to our reach? Can we never preserve anything that comes within our grasp?... I would have to agree in the truth to this. Even if the average person agrees with ecological preservation, or in at least trying to sustain where we are now without doing cataclysmic increased damage- they are overshadowed by corporations and ventures given authority and rights to create disproportionate payoffs. Just by the nature of our ever increasing global population, we are creating more heat, we are using more things, we want more stuff…
Energy takes fuel. We use stuff to go forwards- both biologically and by the nature of propulsion and keneticism. It's ironic that we go so far back in this process. Our choices of how to go forwards; Aotearoa in my opinion is making stupid decisions trying to keep up with the ‘Big Hitters’ and failing to take stock of who and what we really are, honestly seeing our deficits and recognising our strengths- there are powerful things about being smaller and isolated, we aren’t playing to any of these. We are going forwards with ideas which don't have reverence to our special situations.
There are things that Kiwis can do at ground zero- one is a rather simple thing really- employ our people; value ourselves and our skills and not replace roles with technology. I was horrified last week to walk into my doctors office to find an automated check-in kiosk. On the way out there was a pad with four different smily face options for me to hit and ‘rate’ my experience. ‘They’re replacing you?’ I asked the receptionist, ‘oh, not really, we’re just testing them out, but we’d prefer you use them’, she said to me, ‘I’d rather not thanks, I like a real human, and I like you to remain employed also’ I said back to her. ‘I’m not participating in that crap (referring to the experience rating) either’ I said pointing to the face-box, ‘If I feel the need to tell you how I feel, I’ll talk to you about it.’ Check out of the self serve's, the kiosks, the automated recording- vote for a live human I say... and also as a side note- that bloody emoji thing isn't even made here- it's from the US! These budget cuts don't trickle down to the consumer- if I got a discount for using these services I would be a little warmer toward them, but the patron's prices keep going up and the corporations keep absorbing the cream.
We're obsessed with knowing how to do things and we're getting fixated with everyone's opinions about these ways when in reality we just have to dig in and get going; the process expands and reveals itself along the way. I really don't like the subtext to these things too that technological ease gives the consumer a better feel good boost than having to deal with another human- rather clinical isn't it... the irony wasn't missed on me that this example was in a doctor's rooms. With more prevalence of a compulsion for information, we must restrain our obsessive impulses and let go and trust with a positive disposition to have faith in a forward direction. We need to not be scared of conflict or people not always agreeing. No. that's right, I won't be asking for your feel good factor after reading my blogs soz.
Why with such a small population do we think employing these replacements are a good thing; we don't have the populations size like overseas to support them without harm. These tech's don't encourage people to have to confront others and deal with conflict or their emotions, it's removing roles for employment within our communities, and, back to my last post, again it doesn’t have anything to do with ‘ease of service’ or better procedures, it’s about lowering costs and cutting financial corners. We are mad if we are compliant to these manoeuvres. Humans need jobs, we need things to do, we need purpose and we need opportunities DESPERATELY in NZ as it is, why in fuck would we want to diminish all of these qualities both humane and commercial? Here we go again for another round of guinea pig test theories on our communities- re: previous post and Eftpos.
I'm sure the average New Zealander is completely unaware of the rocket launches that will be taking off from the Mahia Peninsular or of the incredible NZ scientists, engineers, astrologers and astrophysicists who have made world first discoveries and revolutionary developments over the decades which have shaped our understandings of our universe, and been fundamental in where we now stand as global citizens in space technologies. William Pickering - central figure and pioneer of NASA space exploration, Beatrice Tinsley - astronomer and cosmologist, Ernest Rutherford, 1st Baron Rutherford of Nelson - scientist and winner of the 1908 Nobel Prize in Chemistry and Roy Kerr - who proved a solution to Einstein's equations which modelled a spinning black hole are just a couple of (major) mention.
I'm intrigued to what community consultation was made by Rocket Lab? ... as I remember correctly we had a national highway diverted as it crossed the path of the Taniwha. We are the First Nation in the world to give a river the same rights as a human and we have special laws protecting our foreshores… but rockets blasting off are ok eh? Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled being a space geek- but it really fascinates me what gets public airtime and how agendas play out…
I loved seeing that James Cameron is one of the biggest backers behind Planetary Resources. Their main goal is to mine the Moon. A little contradictory to your public image innit James? All clean green and protecting the environment yet your happy to go to another celestial body and pillage theirs? Planetary Resources recently acquired Asterank- their website offers scientific data (mass, composition etc) and projects the economic value of mining more than 600,000 asteroids. It's common place these days for investors to have a foot in each side, but make sure they predominantly publicise their good intent. Actually it’s naive to think that many cutting edge developments would work without philanthropy... that goes to my own also! It's also a righteous position to be cynical considering what private investment is doing for both sides of the coin- we can't make things without investment. A world without philanthropy would be a dark and dingy world indeed… or some more ruthless might say, money has no face and no name.
Light & dark, good & bad- this is the dichotomy of human nature- we are not all designed to want to help, neither to be frugal- by the nature of this, it's actually when we see detrimental things happening that we are encouraged to design counteractions and we want these to be successful. One must also keep in mind, what we perceive as bad another sees as good and vica versa. We can be the change we want to see, we can invest ourselves into projects with conviction and passion, and we can make a difference but utilising and embracing that word 'action' in every form, but rat on about ‘stopping globalisation’ or ’halting consumerism’ is knitting things in the wrong direction if you ask me.
There is one outcome which is always certain- remain complacent and un-empowered and nothing will change. I recommend picking at least something to dooo.. even if it’s teeny, but hey, thats a choice also.
In amongst other incredible projects I am currently in the middle of creating my new exhibition and collection of artworks. I’m excited about what is brilliant, I follow energies and people who are associated with things that tug my heart strings, ignite my imagination and make me feel fulfilled, valued and energised. I like to do things that make myself and others feel good and that hopefully lay the foundations for positive and virtuous choices for those to follow.
It’s a magnificent, complicated and ginormous world out there, we are really so tiny in the big scheme of things it can be monumentally overwhelming and defeating. But I find something of a release within these revelations- I want to fill my teeny tiny time here with cool shit.. and I like to dig out the 'feat' in defeating. I like to encourage myself and my loved ones around me to invest our spirits & expertise into projects & developments with conscience and foresight; not just for us, but for who will come next. Initially these things may not make changes on a global scale, but on a personal and community level we can make improvements and amendments… and it’s amazing what ‘little’ things can accumulate to become bigger movements- NZ we have made many of these in our past, lets make sure we make them in our future!
‘Merica; Land of the Free… and I’ll warrant the tempted and hungry. More on that later.
Polite, kind, supportive, invested, honest, open and truthful get-up-and-goers- ‘Mericans tickle me pink. My friends here are fun, and they indulge their inner children. I love that. There is an abundance of genuine pleasantries in the United States. Doors are held open, I hear ‘thank you’s’, ‘please’s’, ‘Ma’am’s, ‘Sir’s’ and other kindnesses. I have conversations on the street corner, I stop and am invited into occurrences in passing, I am welcomed into people’s homes, businesses and places of recreation and gatherings with affection; and I experience hospitality the way it used to be. Traditional, yes, Sir, ‘Merica is traditional; it’s really refreshin’.
It has also put into perspective how unique and diverse our family systems are in Kiwiland- we are quite avant-guard in comparison to other Western countries; we are much more unorthodox than most realise; aaand because of misinformation broadcast to us by the powers that be, it’s no wonder we have an identity crisis and lack solidarity. Our collective identity as ‘New Zelanders’ is fractured into ethnic groups and a screaming class system. We are can be very modern, we can be very relaxed in some aspects, but we are also very divisive. We have outdated impressions, stereotypical media ones and misappropriated governmental ones. I don't think as a collective we really know who or what we are or where we want to go as a group.
New York City; one of my favourite cities, you are just a small stop on this adventure. Predominantly I have been in Florida, in Long Island and now upstate New York; Duchess County. MYYY GAWWD that last one has enraptured me. An myyyy GAWWD am I thankful to be back for a reprise in the provinces. This US experience has given me a much different perspective on the Untied citizens- and one which has made me happy with a new appreciation for this population.
It’s a different side to ‘Merica that I see this time around. It was fourteen years ago I was last here- a whipper snapper let loose in New York city for two and a half weeks to experience the Art World, visit famous galleries and meet with established and famous creatives. A lot has changed. My adventure in 2003 was 2 1/2 years after the September 11th massacre. But rather than sadness there was a great amount of hope, a huge amount of fizz and a lot of passion directed to going forwards and recovering from what had happened.
New York was LOUD- and really fuckin sassy- it was my kinda place at that point. It’s a much quieter city now 14 years later; actually shockingly so. It feels muzzled to me, unfortunately it kinda feels a little more like any other big city. People are plugged in; with headphones and necks bent their energies are directed internal and overwhelmingly down. There is much less chatter, there is no honking of the cabs and the mega corporations have squeezed out family owned businesses. There is a feeling.. a funny feeling of loss. That big city ache yeah, ya see it in peoples faces, ya can feel it in the air. The high’s are bigger here, but the low’s equally cavernous. Cities have a way of amplifying emotion and experience; they can be the best of places and they can be Hell on Earth- it can be a dog-eat-dog kinda world out there with a very small buffer zone. I felt last time that was moderated by people’s expressions and authenticity of behaviour. New Yorkians told it like it was. That release valve of an outburst seemed to put a place to natural order- it legitimised the complexities of living in this rat-race and lattice of high-rises. Now without this presence, it has been replaced with a simmer, with a glare. This aside, it’s addictive, a sensory explosion and a place of indulgence for the intellect, the mind and the pocket.
I’m nostalgic?- perhaps, sometimes the stories which are woven are not always of light and laughter. It can be confronting what we can see if we are able to make comparisons. Unfortunately, it is one of the sadder parts of travel I find, seeing what was and what now is; making comparisons with how things were and how they now are… maybe that’s why I’m always going places I haven't before. Familiarity makes my perspective of digging deep to look as with child’s eyes; with wonder and amusement, a little more complex. Sometimes, it can be a battle not to be jaded- it takes a lot of work to choose to look for the good in places without comparison to the past.. a technique well utilised upon ourselves and others as they grow also.
Being a motobabe; driving and riding around the world, gives me a huge amount of experience within different culture’s driving styles and systems. America is fair with a rather accurate assessment of safe speeds to drive on their roads. Or perhaps this is explained better from the other end. In NZ, our corners are marked a particular speed. A skilled driver knows that at times they can be taken 10 or 20km faster than this with correct road positioning, acceleration and condition appraisal. It doesn’t build a sense of faith within the transport system when you know the information being provided to you is inaccurate or overly cautious. Cars are being built safer, to handle greater speeds, and humans are more skilled and trained drivers.
Overseas countries (in particular Italy) takes these considerations into account within their infrastructures. There are toll roads which allow those who want to travel at higher speeds the luxury to do so, there is ‘margin of error’ accounted for within measuring speeds, there is acceptance within drivers to keep right to let others pass if they want to. There is an educated and mature approach to human process i.e. excellerating out of a corner or overtaking another vehicle, and, thus an educated and mature approach to speeding infringements. E.g 4km (2.4 miles) over the speed limit is not warrant for a $60 fine. Adjacent to another project of mine, I really enjoyed having the opportunity to talk with a Sherif about the strategies and systems they employ over here in New York to uphold standards yet be fair within them. * I’ll have ya note I’m not writing this because I have a problem with tickets- I’ve never been issued a speeding ticket by a police officer, I like fairness and I'm not a fan of people being set up to fail. Anxiety can be personally crippling, but it also causes other obstructions.
As a motorcyclist it is immensely dangerous to be nervous or panicky about being 4km over the limit. Doing stupid reactions like slamming ones brakes on after seeing a cop or camera can have catastrophic repercussions- plus it’s totally useless, they’ve already got you on radar by the time you see them- however it's not going to win you point by not shaving off that speed- it's about unfair margins. It’s not great being behind a car which decides to do shock braking either- I always have a large following distance precisely for these occurrences and because more time, gives one more space for reaction.. to annnything.
Travellers to NZ, be warned of ‘zero tolerance’. Perhaps we should look a this in a broader context eh.. I would argue we have a rather ‘zero tolerance’ to a lot of things.
Here’s a controversial one for you. We are getting more access, experience and training within cars which are engineered for better handling and have more advanced safety features. With more people travelling internationally, and more people being exposed to driving in different environments we are all become increasingly confident and skilled, each generation improving upon the former. Why are our systems not taking this is into consideration? Why is there excessive moderation? These slogans about ‘speed kills’ are not entirely true- there are many states here in America where the speed limit has been slowly increased (75mph/ 120km.. and even up to 85mph/ 137km) with no increase in fatalities. In the US and other countries I have visited, there is an emphasis on monitoring and improving routes, roads and freeways; in NZ we upgrade infrastructure but we lack a reassessment of the quality of these new resources. Or another way to look at it is that we cater to the lowest denominator- the 1989 Corolla with no so good braking... There are many cultures around the world where people are given the respect to develop their talents and opportunity to take responsibility for them. Ok, I’m going to prod the stick further for the sake of it- You know those boy racers- instead of fining them and taking away the things they love why not offer them an opportunity to up-skill and go track?.. Out there? Well there are places where we are giving addicts a place to shoot up, providing them with needles and a nurse incase they overdose (NY, Melbourne come to mind).. bit backwards isn't it if you support one demographic excelling at a choice yet not another…
Here in the US there are new cameras at intersections. Flashing for infringements, particularly at night, they can give ya an awful fright. Even after one knows they are there, they’re really unnerving. It’s startling, it breaks your concentration and it doesnt make anyone a better driver. Again, being nervous, edgy and fearful is counterproductive to any human in any situation. With the increases in GPS navigation, the erratic nature of people’s driving by taking directions has hit a new high in my experience also... I raise my hand to doing a precariously executed one of these in a car recently myself. I preempt you making a last minute turn cos ya’ve overshot the intersection buddy.. I empathise- it’s ok, I try to have that generous following distance to allow for erratic incidences. It’s not a catastrophic event if we miss the route- there’s a thing called ‘re-route’, oh, and there’s those old skool things called ‘signs’ and ‘sense of direction’. What’s going to happen to us without training this facet of intuition?… strangely when one thing is lost another thing grows- I'm intrigued with what this will be.
It can be fun to be lost, and I can guarantee you, Google doesn't give you the cool back routes with funky ass shyit off the main track yo. Useful for getting from A-B yes, great for people with physical and mental difficulties, anxiety issues and a plethora of other situations- but for Joe Smith? Short term benefit v long term lack of developed skill is an interesting concept to ponder. As is learning the harder option then having the easier as a back up plan. The only way to overcome anxiety and nervous disorders is to decompartmentalise the problems and chip away at them by calmly evaluating whether the panic is justified. I hate seeing things which just make this more difficult for us.
ALL of the above is totally trivial and pathetic when it is placed next to the big issues that NZ really needs to get it's teeth into. Issues which are hidden, repressed and rarely given airtime or promoted by the government (or our communities) as fundamentals that need to be fixed and assessed. Highest infant mortality rates in the developed world, highest suicide rates in the developed world, children born of incest, domestic violence, inflated and extreme cost of living, three times the cost of anywhere else in the world to build housing, lack of housing, excessive taxes and rates and a quality of life which is low. Pathetic levels of remuneration, no appreciation for skill, corrupt business and law standards, grossly polluted waterways and land and severely behind in keeping up with new eco standards. LOOOOW and poor. Not the 'clean green' or super amazing we tell the population or advertise ourselves as at all. Oh and as a side note- a democracy is not supposed to be a duopoly- swinging back between two major parties which are only regurgitating the same bullshit year in year out will NOT ever change things.
Humm, I need to changed the topic; If we want to talk in a sense of experience and training. The former being shown something, the latter being given the tools to undertake that skill further we could bring in this example; the Dunning Kruger effect. The more we can help people recognise positive skills then they can develop these. The more we can give people direction, purpose and opportunity to develop their passions, the more likely they are to find their skillsets.
Dunning and Kruger proposed that, for a given skill, incompetent people will:
1 tend to overestimate their own level of skill;
2 fail to recognise genuine skill in others;
3 fail to recognise the extremity of their inadequacy;
4 recognise and acknowledge their own previous lack of skill, if they are exposed to training for that skill.
Basically this states that;
The more you know, the less competent you think you are because you know there is so much you don’t know.
The less you know, the more you think you know because you don’t know what you don’t know.
There is no shortcut , there is so much you don’t know without experience.
E.g it's taken me years to hone my skills as a motorcyclist. From originally riding a trike, to a bicycle, to being a pillion, to owning increasingly powerful motorbikes, to now owning a high performance racing bike. But in order to do this, I firstly learned by observation, participated through many stages of learning at different skill levels and then continuing to up-skill and learn as a rider. I took and I take advanced rider corses, I learn about the mechanics and physics of machines and I interact with seasoned riders, racers and enthusiasts. None of this is finite, I am always learning, I am always seeking.
That's one side of the coin, the other is the Dude or Dudette who fronts up with the cash and buys a high performance machine and feels they can do the same thing that I can without any experience or training. In other words, they don't know what they don't know, a dangerous situation and an accident waiting to happen.
We can use this example in driving a vehicle, we could use this for making art, we could use this in understanding the finer details of human relationship, of astronomy & astrophysics, of medicine... the list is endless. Our conceptualisations are totally relative to our perceptions and current knowledge. Fundamentals of base theories are just ideas that have consensus. The most critical part of Dunning and Kruger theory is that incompetent people 'fail to recognise genuine skill in others'. This happens with employers, this happens with friends and peers... this happens with family, this happens with criticisms upon things that are radical or unconventional. It's at the kernel of 'Tall Poppy Syndrome'... it is incredibly detrimental to growth and performance from any viewpoint.
It's also a fascinating effect that by it's nature comes hand-in-hand with being adventurous, exploring new things and taking risks. Bit of a mind bending balancing act aint it! For if one doesn't have courage and balls to push the envelope past what is established (either personal or external) then one would never find out what they don't know; if one dosen't have experience then one cannot ever be faced with ones incompetencies or shortfalls. Here's where an injection of humility is useful. In New Zealand, an island nation insulated from direct influence and moderation from neighbours (our closest one we have come to hate as the wealthier bigger brother who left us behind) there is a breeding ground for people to hold insensible ideas without being moderated by close interaction or having ease of access to experiences which show up insensibilities. NZ has laws unto it's own which although may seem on the surface to be like other places, are not; bullying, corporate mentality and oppressive tyrannical conduct is commonplace both in personal and professional spheres. As a society we are static, complacent, lack any faith in leadership, naively dutiful and lead by false information. If we keep our head buried in the sand thinking we know everything and thing's are ok; acting superior and arrogant in our assumptions, we are going to become further disillusioned, further alienated from how the rest of the world is progressing, more discontent and feel only envy. Jealousy is at the root to a lot of what is simmering in Kiwiland- when are we going to have the courage to admit this and deal with it?
Our teeny kiwi guniea pig society gets subjected to all sorts of hair brained schemes. Often completely out of our control. Someone has a great new idea, and NZ becomes the testing ground for it. It’s not by accident that we are at the forefront of technological integration- take the implementation of Eftpos for example. We have had card cash since 1985 when The Bank of New Zealand started rolling it out in petrol stations. Pull out cold hard chachinga to pay in Aotearoa and people assume it’s from illegitimate means or you're a drug dealer because people have become so conditioned to this method- the rest of the world ain’t so unguarded towards those big banks and ‘Big Brother’s’.. neither am I. It makes me angry that because of our relative isolation and docile societal temperament we have our liberties of choice narrowed. It’s much harder to coerce a bigger population into doing a particular method by removing established practices to leave only one or two options. I could trickle into discussing the prevalence of duopolies and market cornering here too… thankfully our population is also small enough to sustain a counter-act to some of this, with boutique markets and a DIY mindset... and we are ingenious, enterprising and creative- but we're loosing the capacity to be like this because we are so repressed by the cost of living, pissed about what we are 'made to do' and bitchy to each other. It concerns me immensely how unnecessary restrictions are being enforced upon New Zealander’s liberties- and for those who choose less popular ones they are faced with inferences of shadiness. It's hard to have an open minded view point when you're living in a closed mind world.
Money in itself is a funny thing in NZ- it's not loved, its not encouraged and it is shrouded in inferences that if you are good at making it you must be corrupt. Especially if you do so outside established systems i.e a 9-5 or one 'job title'. These restrictions; these often invisible parameters, as with diet, as with behaviour, as with social repression or idealism only creates additional problems, and when it all boils down, societal systems are never really in place for ‘safety’ or for ‘protection’ they are there to gather revenue.
The most detrimental of these was the introduction of Tourism to NZ. It is only recently I have realised how much this has damaged our country. It is the local who has paid the price for how we have sold ourselves out to the world. We whored our land like pimps, raping Mother Nature and the unique New Zealand culture for the pennies in others pockets. The cost of living increased, the scramble for resources increased, our genuine desire to meet with other cultures dropped and it has become about revenue, hold out ya hand for more revenue… but this didn't help out the little guy. We failed to implement procedures to gather moolie form travellers as they entered the country or locations of significance i.e. Queenstown and so to make money the prices of basics and infrastructure was hiked. I’d be surprised if the average NZd’r would even consider travelling down that way anymore- it’s extremely expensive for a NZD earner to stay there because the accomodation, food and activities are out of proportion to what people can earn. If there is no fee for foreigners to see our amazing culture and sights, then it is gathered from the incidentals; food, accom, basic transport infrastructure etc- but this just additionally penalises the local who also has to pay the jumped up prices yet isn't earning foreign currency.
Who are places for if not for the people who look after them and give their lives and love to sustaining them?
There is an exotic location I have been scoping out. There are a limited amount of tourists allowed in the country at one time. There is a $250 USD (at peak season, $200 off season) fee PER DAY for being in the country. You are only allowed to travel on pre-approved tours with licensed guides and in particular areas of the country. You are charged a ‘foreign national fee’ for entering places of religious and environmental significance and there are two prices, one for local, one for visitor. Fair deal if you ask me (although I agree this example is on the steeper side), how badly do you want to do something? How much do you value it? If it’s a ‘meh’ to either of those, don't go. If you like what they have, or if you would like to see it in person, then find a way to dig deep and pay for this luxury. NZ we were desperate, we let our leaders sell us out because we didn't know better and now WE are paying the price. We were scared to hold ourselves with integrity, we were scared of ‘loosing out’ and now we are at deficit to the choices and strategies that were implemented. This must change. We need to look after NZ and put our people first with first opportunity. We have all the behaviours of a dysfunctional family- we can do better than this.
Below is an informative video, given to me today just before publishing this bog post. It is from a man I greatly respect, it shoots from the hip with eye opening statistics and it talks about topics close to my heart from a similar perspective.
… ok, I’m metaphorically going back to the U.S. of A.
Food. Food here is BIIIIG. Always has been in my experience; in mass and in obsession. Yet, there is SO much misleading information and it is extremely hard to eat well through all this temptation. I love a doggy bag though cheers ‘Merica- yet sometimes with all this stuff in-front of me, it can be hard to remember that it’s not totally necessary to have to finish it all in one go.
The billboards, the places, the signages, the overflow of fast food drive-though outlets, the misleading labels, the constant calorie numbers on menus.. it’s a minefield. Originally those calorie numbers came from the litigation culture here, but it now encourages a much more unhealthy obsession. Humans should be encouraged to eat well rounded not by numbers- it can only end up in people feeling resentful and unfulfilled. A little of what you like does you good- or everything in moderation yeah?
Here’s a few truths. Eating fat does not make you fat. I.e. eating a high calorie meal at the right time with whole food fats and produce is NOT bad for you. Low calorie foods will send you crazy with the chemicals in them trying to trick your mind and metabolism into thinking you have food love. The more food stuff ya see, the more any human is going to feel hungry- that’s a basic primal reaction; billboards, driving past outlets, reading cook books, or advertisements online, on telly or just ON everywhere. The nutrients within a particular fruit or whole food need all the other bits to be ingested properly and to absorb the vitamins within- i.e the whole raspberry has all sorts of goodies in it as the whole thing- it’s not the same benefits when the vitamins or elements within a product are separated out and added into something completely different. Feeling ‘bad’ about eating a treat food, or something hi cal does a huge amount of damage to a person- this only makes one feel they have ‘failed’ at eating well, or have ‘fallen off the bandwagon’ by doing something incorrect. If an entire nation is encouraged to drive everywhere, it ain’t gunna encourage a person to get out and walk to get their produce and meals AAAAAND my fuck; Eggs with added hormones to make harder shells??! Milk with additives left right and centre (read the fine-print) scary flavoured creamer… Bread with added sugar (everything with added sugar.. check out some of those chemical names #wolfinsheepsclothing), Chicken breast the length of 1/2 my forearm *largest chook I’ve ever seen- hey Arnie the Chiketo… Hummus with added sweeties and food colourings.. fresh juice? Bet you it aint…
Here's a fact- sugar makes you hungry. Sugar in anything makes you crave more. Sugar is mostly unnecessary in our diets except in moderation through fresh fruit and other natural places, as it aids digestion. At times of illness, pregnancy and other unusual instances it can be very helpful- but for Joe Average it's totally not needed within the products we see through foodstuff manufacting. Going ‘gluten free’- umm, well what they replace those ingredients with is… Sugar was designed and is programmed primally within us to make us gorge. Fact. It’s not something an intellect can override. Adding it into an empty tummy is like setting off a panic to your metabolism. “Feed meee"… “feed meee anything” it will cry. Add it in moderation, infrequently and at the right times i.e.- within a balanced meal and it wont feel so much like shooting up. The less ya have it, the less it appeals, and after a rather small amount of time, it really does icky stuff to you if you do have it i.e- the shakes, temple migraines, that erratic sweaty eyeball feeling.. just kind of grossness really.
Therapeutic dose- it’s medical terminology referring to when the use of a substance benefits the user in the short term. Take any chemical addition into the body past this point; either natural or synthetic in form and it will have become a poison.
Big deal? It is to those of us who these additives (sugar, colouring, preservatives, I would say even all these ‘good extras’ e.g. protein, calcium, etc) set off chemical reactions where they compel us to seek more food love, to try to fill ourselves up or which create reactions, sensitivities and allergies to some demographics. There are those of us who additionally have an emotional reaction to chemicals, both natural and synthetic.. more and more I am finding out this also has something to do with hormonal fluctuations. For others, food is simply fuel, but I think more and more we are seeing prevalence in the former examples; those who perceive food as fuel most certainly are a minority. I think some of us unconsciously like to be jacked around by sensations more than others, and this capacity, when out of balance has the propensity to lead us into also sorts of temptations and experiences.
It’s at times like this when I’m travelling that I get twangs of longing for NZ… ‘Merica does it to me and so does Japan- it’s a sugar minefield over there. I get to a point where I miss clean air and less of this crap. I am so thankful for a lesser level of this infiltration at home. But it is there- the star ratings, the calorie lists, the ‘health food’ stands.. it’s all a creapin’ in and it’s all marketing peps. They don't give a fuck about your health- they care about your moolie. It’s fads and quick ‘fixes’… actually they are long term muck ups cos they really are just a waste of time and emotion. The mega corporations (although once in a while are taaaasty!) are filled with preservatives, fillers, fake ingredients and additives- by taking out Mr & Mrs local corner shop who is making meals from scratch and smaller quantities, we again have less access to whole produce and more access to chemicals. Nothing but three healthy meals a day with limited sugar, balanced green, fibre, carbs, fats and whole protein will sustainably do the trick for a healthy diet and weight balance in my experience. Aiming for some number? If you're doing this and it’s not the magic bingo… well then honeybee that’s not what you are supposed to be. Wouldn't you rather be glowy and happy than skinny and miserable? Do I eat shit? of course! I love food!- all varieties of food and I get the most enormous F.O.M.O (fear of missing out) if I don't have what I want or crave, but I’m careful about timing, I’m careful about portions, I’m aware of my mental state, who I am with and trigger stress related situations, and I try to not internally berate and then punish myself. Did three lifetimes worth of that in a past life- didn't get me anywhere. I need what I like, life’s too short to miss out. If I can be in an environment where I am not constantly attacked with this barrage I am a much, much happier human. Plus, the more one is worried about food, the more intense it is. If we are relaxed and at ease with it, ‘treats’ don't = ‘freaks’.... yep cheezy but true.
It’s on those notes, and by escaping that barrage that I am thankful and privileged to be currently upstate in New York. With the Hudson river close by, the open big clear sky, the sounds of the birds, fresh grass, big trees and open paddocks. It’s heaven, it’s my heaven being back in the countryside and near moving water. City life? It’s my thing for short bursts, but my happy place is of vistas green, gold, blue and pale pale eggshell. I grew up with this luxury of city to country, and it is within these juxtapositions that I love and adore them each for their own benefits, for both environments teach me appreciation for the other. If you have no measure stick, no comparison, how are you to ever know what is so wonderful or valuable about a particular thing, place, person or experience?
There is so much opportunity within larger populations. There are so many more people of ‘kind’ to find and share similar concepts and thoughts with, there are so many more people available who see the worth in creativity, creative investment, supporting ambitious dreams and projects of desire which sometimes have no other purpose than just being fucking cool things to do. There is a societal infrastructure which loves success in America and it truly is a place where you can chisel a spot for yourself doing something rather unusual and have a customer base to support it. There is love for doing things that make you happy, helping each other get there, and finding a way to maintain being there for an extended period.
Lets say, in addition there is the capacity for longer periods in the limelight… or at least a self made glow. In NZ this can become brief and rather unsustainable. It is also why a lot of us become very good at many things, because time on top is not continuously feasible for long, because there isn't really anything up there except for your head above a parapet lined with daggers and disesteem, unlike here, there is minimal support. There is a bulletproof ceiling of ‘fair remuneration’ and and even more repressive one that implies one should ‘be thankful for ones job or opportunity as is’. It is not the physical reality of getting to the top of your profession which is the hardest- it is the phycological barrage which is so damaging, depleting and exhausting.
A child growing up in the states might have a higher statistic of being shot in a drive by, but the chances of them taking their own life by suicide or having other emotional, mental and spiritual problems are faaaaar higher in Aotearoa. Keep in mind- there are only 4 million of us in comparison also.
Under one UNICEF heading, 'Ensuring Health and Well-Being', NZ country was placed 38th place out of 41. (41 being the worst measuer). This also covered indicators such as the neonatal mortality rate and the teenage birth rate. The comments about adolescent suicide were particularly damning. The report found New Zealand had the worst rate in the world at 15.6 per 100,000 people in the designated age bracket (15-19). This was substantially higher than the next worst countries, Lithuania, Finland, Chile and Ireland, and more than eight times worse than the best performing countries, Italy and Portugal. It was twice as bad as the American youth suicide rate and almost five times worse than Britain's.
"Youth suicide is an avoidable reality in New Zealand, but it is not being adequately tackled", mental health experts say. Really? Let me explain something from someone who's been there- it's prevalent in all striations of society and it's entirely linked into the bullying and psychological abuse we subject each other to.
NZ struggles with people in the limelight extensively, I've talked about this before, but I want to say this again, because if we were truthful about what is happening, we can find a way to take the sting out of this and pave a way for next generations to not be subjected to this abuse. Basking in a well deserved glow is seen as hogging it, blowing your trumpet, or preventing others from having their go. Every industry is ruthless at the top- it’s human nature to want to be Top Dog; that inevitably requires a change of guard, but in NZ this mentality is exacerbated by a small population who feels marginalised. Don't get me wrong, New York is ruthless, but there are different types of this, and the variety at home is intensely malicious, rooted in envy, spiteful and incredibly vindictive… in comparsion it’s a logical type of harshness here. At home people think there is not as much to go around -or there is a greater perception of lack. This creates a lower tolerance towards people who seem to ‘sit pretty’, or even those that are ambitious and determined to achieve their goals; and a culture that lacks integrity and courage to stand and support parties in conflict or dissent. People are way too invested in other people's business also and where their lifestyles come from- it's always so refreshing for me to be overseas and not have to reply to the stock standard question after 2 minutes of meeting someone of 'what do you do?'. At home you don't find a lot of people courageous enough to put their head on the line for a cause (or a friendship either work or personal) for it affecting future prospects, current prospects, working relationships, social structure or the big one when it really comes down to it.. money. Remuneration honey- money has an evil way of swaying opinion and buying allegiance. NZ deals are not ones where two parties come out winners and walk away happy- there is a winner and there is always a big looser.
Once we have achieved or mastered a situation within a ripple there isn't an automatic pass out card to things being easy or smooth sailing. In my experience as soon as I have felt I've got it sorted, or I am 'sitting pretty' the game changes; I can guarantee I will be thrown a life curveball. In my experience the ripples get more complex, the challenges within them more elaborate, and the skills required to keep going forwards more involved. I am often involved in helping others who are being subjected to different controls, intimidation and bullying and often I find myself advocating for the down trodden or those who are being treated unfairly. Either this 'upping of the stakes' in my life can be self made, or the Universe will kick them in for me.. especially if I have become comfortable or complacent. It can be a pretty horrific environment to live within constantly battling power-plays from all angles in NZ- not a coincidence I like to get out and explore.
I’ll share my understandings about ruthlessness however, it only perpetrates fear and with this in prevalence, there is no freedom of exploration, freedom of expression or the playfulness of invention. There is also becomes much less honesty and openness.
Money does not and never will buy true loyalty. By nature this quality is one built between each other over time. It takes trust, it takes integrity, it take the initiative to work things out between parties face-to-face and it takes the king hitter of all- respect. For a nerdy assessment, this last one is defined in the dictionary as:
re·spect | rəˈspekt/ noun
1 a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements."the director had a lot of respect for Douglas as an actor"
2 synonyms: esteem, regard, high opinion, admiration, reverence, deference, honour "the respect due to a great artist”
Often it is found in abundance in places you may not expect. Places and people who run their own set of rules, not ones dictated to them. Seeming chaos has unspoken rules, so do people who live unorthodox lifestyles, and in my experience their concepts of fairness and estimation are often resolute, instinctive, unwavering and built upon practical knowledge. True respect for another is not illustrated by using someone for self purpose or gain nor using them as a pawn within manipulations or a system; nor putting up with them because they serve a scheme.
Never underestimate the power of human connection. We can soon dismiss an email but it is very hard to forget a person who we’ve dined with, laughed with or spoke in person with- for better or worse impressions. The power of intuition is apparent through interaction; that happens between people not through emails. Intimacy is corporeal; true ‘business’ is intimate. Go for a walk, go for lunch, get on an aeroplane, go try something new.
People make their own minds up about others or situations. Some believe the hype, others their own assumptions. In my experience, humanity likes fantasy; people like to spin stories to inflate their sense of self importance and social standing- they ‘know things’, we’re all guilty of this just by having an opinion. Really at the end of the day, who cares? What another ‘knows’ when dished with cattiness and venom is of no relevance to the bigger picture- one which only the individual can paint, with or without assistance and most brilliantly with positivity.
I like to sleep at night, I have a conscience, and I’ll always defer to that bigger picture and the long game. ‘Conscience’ doesn’t mean goody-two-shoes, it means I’ll stand by my decisions. I’m happy to wait things out, I know the rewards patience and kindness brings, and more importantly how the world has a natural order to righting itself. I shut down on those who threaten my ability to focus on where I am going and try to derail my thoughts. People are special, places are special- I am remorseless in walking away from those who have malicious intent and will ferociously protect my loved ones from those who take pleasure out of spitefully attacking others for self gain.
If we make choices which align with our fundamentals then bravely standing up for our beliefs becomes a simple decision. How someone else perceives these beliefs is up to a plethora of variables- I don't need to be in combat with people about these. We collect our own kind consciously and unconsciously through tribal behaviours, external representation, mannerisms, energies and many other associations and familiarisations and it is a natural part of this that at times we grate upon each other. How we deal with this is the true measure of ones metal- making a remorseless decision doesn’t have to psychologically or physically affect another person- we can simply decide to be honest about our position, disclose this and make actions to disengage. We always have choices toward aligning our sympathies and principles. They take but seconds to implement and some of the most powerful and profound are when choose a ‘no’ rather than a ‘yes’.
Civilised, gracious, genteel, cultured, historical, expansive, and sophisticated are only a few of the adjectives that come to mind when I think to describe Jordan and the unrivalled authenticity and kindness of Arab hospitality.
Jordan is chic, and Jordan is very, very special.
Firstly however I would like to personally thank all the magnificent souls who took their time to share with me their energy, knowledge and the wonders of The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and Arab culture. To His Majesty King Abdullah II and her Majesty Queen Rania. To Eugene deMarco, Her Excellency Lina Annab, Nadine, Mohammad, Ghazi, George, Raja, Hamsa, Samer, the Royal Jordanian Falcons. To the guides, and the fantastic hospitality from the accommodations I stayed… and special mention to Munther for being so immensely accomodating to our last minute changing of plans… tollerance level shinning golden! I was delighted and privileged to have the opportunity to come and discuss business endeavours and creative opportunities with you all. I am thrilled to find Jordanian resources well suited to the projects I have under development and to additionally find these facilitated and supported by like minded passionate individuals with vision; these are unique and valuable circumstances.
🌟🌟 🌟 🌟🌟
Earlier this month I was delighted to be invited to attend a private audience with His Majesty King Abdullah II and Her Majesty Queen Rania. My artwork ‘Mandala’ was purchased as a gift to be presented to the King and Queen.
A mandala (Sanskrit: मण्डल, lit, circle) is a spiritual and ritual symbol in Hinduism and Buddhism, representing all existence. In common use, "mandala" has become a generic term for any diagram, chart or geometric pattern that represents the cosmos metaphysically or symbolically; a microcosm of the universe. Mandalas often exhibit radial balance.
The term appears in the Rigveda (an ancient Hindu collection of Sanskrit hymns) as the name of the sections of the work, but is also used in other religions and philosophies, particularly Buddhism.
In various spiritual traditions, mandalas may be employed for focusing attention of practitioners and adepts, as a spiritual guidance tool, for establishing a sacred space. They are used as an aid to meditation and trance induction.
🌟🌟 🌟 🌟🌟
Before I get on a roll, lets additionally clarify a little of the miss-information floating around about this country and locale though yar. I know first hand what it’s like to be geographically miss-located by association. New Zealand often gets attached to Australia (nooo.. we are not that little island down there- that’s Tasmania) or mysteriously placed up there with Switzerland in Europe (I know… it sounds a little like that doesn’t it lol), Jordan often suffers being lumped in with ‘troubled Middle East’.
It. Is. Not. It’s a forward thinking, safe, developed and delightful culture- quite unique unto it’s own.
It’s tight quarters, with Syria and Lebanon to the North, Iraq to the East, Saudi to the South and Palestine, Israel and Egypt to the West- this area is one of the longest populated anywhere in the world. With artefacts and cultural remnants dating back over 10,000 years, this family has long standing provenance. One, which I would like to point out over those with a mere 150 or 300 years of colonisation; a bit more experience in living together. I balk at the audacity and arrogance of those with less experience and their endless opinions about what is happening in this part of the world- those in glass houses shouldn't throw stones- certainly not at those who have foundations that go back as far as these guys do.
I’ve realised some rather interesting things in my time here in Jordan and they pertain to how we interact and empower each other.
My culture’s conflict has an awful lot of basis in possession. It dawned on me one day in Amman that this really is not the fundamental kernel of what is happening here in the Middle East. Conflict has basis in interpretation; in semantics, in the details of how things are understood- there’s a lot of intellectualisation about particulars.
I was fortunate one afternoon in-between my scheduled meetings to have the opportunity to visit the Jordan Contemporary Art Museum. It followed on to being invited to attend workshop afternoon with visually impaired children and the opening of the museum's latest curation (above). It was here I had a fascinating conversation with an Arabic calligrapher (1st & 2nd photos) about the details of Arabic language. Taken by Burmese in the weeks prior while travelling in Myanmar I had also fallen for Arabic- phonetic sounding/ symbol based recognition languages are my thing. In two days I had accrued the basics but was totally captivated when this man explained to me the following: marks placed above the script can define whether the word or concept is imaginary or literal.
This blew my mind- he went on to discuss with me the formalities of brush strokes, the precise rules applied to the inclination and angles of the marks; the spacing; the thickness of line. Reminiscent of the formalities of Japanese script I was totally and utterly absorbed for two reasons- one, the beauty of the thing in itself and 2, because it gave me insight and perspective to the psychology of how this culture thought and the rules and parameters they feel are apparent within their historical structures.
This meeting also coincided with me finding great similarities in what is considered ‘Contemporary Art’ in older established societies and the techniques these places are using to teach young minds. That afternoon I was able to discuss observations from my travels and my experiences with scholars and those to the learned level of doctorate. Both in India and in Jordan, there are distinct categories of expression which were, and are, considered modern artistry. A derivative Cubist style, a geometric block coloured and textural expression, loose lined sketching, naive illustrative figurative works, poetic form cast in bronze, narrative illustrations upon ceramic.. and a few others. Consistent and parallel themes, and in some ways this could be construed as formulaic demonstrations of beauty. ‘This is considered acceptable’, ‘this is considered Art’, ‘this is how we do it’.
Watching the children in the workshop I considered my finding from India, now in Jordan and compared them with my culture. Was history repressing the ability for those here in older cultures to break out of set appreciations of ‘Art’ and expressive formula? Are these kid encouraged to make what they feel or are they being told what it should look like? How does a culture steeped in historical ideals of what is good and what isn’t take on radical and unusual deviations from this.. how does a new generation influenced globally by different media find a platform where their work is considered ‘good’ outside what is currently appreciated and has been so for many, many more years than elsewhere, and how does a young person wanting to be educated and find success within a system find a unique voice without being rejected from the structure which he/ she is being taught within… If I thought my country at times could be rigid and conservative I had just encountered a whole new challenging system. I also thought- how does a relatively new culture establish avenues for recognisable distinction within creative expression and how do we educate people to the long term values of craftsmanship and creative outlet?
That night I was wandering the streets down Rainbow Road and I was people watching; a favourite past-time. When Jordanians interact, it’s hard to perceive what is going on within the interaction. Ok, there can be hand waving, there can be different intonation and louder speech- but the energy exchange between two people, on average is very, very even. (* note- hand waving, yelling and loud talk does not mean the person is radical or violent- it just means they are impassioned &/or demonstrative- thanks media for mudding the water on that for viewers) It’s hard to tell who has the upper hand shall we say. Often when we communicate- we can see a dominant party, or one that is submissive to the others, or the appearance of power-play being employed. Culturally we have different ways of coming together anyway- like in India, interaction can be all balls blazing from the outset and then we work our way back down to mutual respect. In Arab interaction- there is much less crackle and fizz and more even respect.
The following day, I had the opportunity to talk with a man further about my observations. I’d watched a particular theme play out two times in the morning which I’d pointed out to him- once between two men at a kebab stand and another time between another group of men setting up stalls at Jerash. What looked like from the external display to be some type of heated discussion about a thing (the lamb and the beef in the first case, and the items in the stall in the second) was actually about the particulars of the details. The first men were discussing the better qualities of the meat and the second the particular correct placement of the stand and the items. Less literal about the stuff and more about the particulars… interesting spill over into the religious quarrels surrounding this area also.. it’s not about the Quran, it’s the interpretation of the messages within yar..
Is this not what happens as we get older? We get more particular about our perspectives, more entitled to our point of views, more rigid in our perception of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’; ‘good’ and ‘bad’ interpretations… we get grouchier about being confronted about these boundaries being criticised also…? It’s a hard thing to break out of system when we nit pick the details and impose controls yeah; but is this not a battle that we as humans have a daily self responsibly to consider opposing or contesting? Why.. I’m always asking why… and I can be juvenile of mind. I flick my concepts around play them out and I don’t settle for what are other people's ideas; I refuse to feel obligation or duty to ‘be’ or think a certain way. In other words- I don’t believe the hype and I don't do what I’m told is ‘correct’… oh what a luxury huh. Yes, it is a luxury to have had the opportunity to grow myself up making choices to being able to think & ultimately behave this way.
Above- Petra. A very special mention to ￼Adeeb Alhasanat from Jordan Inspiration Tours who's knowledge about this area is vast and is a fantastic representative to impart information about the culture of Petra and it's former and current inhabitants- I highly recommend him and his company.
These older cultures on some levels can be rather serious and I considered why I assimilate so well with the playfulness of Asia. One, the belief systems align more to my values and two, well, they are far more ‘young at heart’ in a way. Creativity and that inner child come hand in hand. In order to think outside the box we need to be avant-guarde, we need to be able to take calculated risks, and we need to not be confined by constraints, rules and judgements. It’s very hard to do something new and revolutionary if people freak out about stepping outside what is established or recognised as 'acceptable'.
Ironically- my culture, although it appears to be laid back and relaxed (touted as a breeding ground for 'creativity') employs the highest level of psychological warfare I have ever experienced in any culture, anywhere in the world. Control comes in dangerous and subliminal form and restrictions are imposed everywhere. Here's an interesting thing though- it’s kryptonite for most Kiwi’s to not be liked; to not keep the waters even in their social systems and community; we don’t like obvious displays of conflict. We excel internationally because of this- we work hard and we are amicable but there’s a rather sinister side to all of this too- we are incredibly manipulative. Our society has many controls, but we learn how to to navigate and break them, not very pleasantly this comes with learning how to navigate a person also, we like put downs, we like perfectionism, we like making people do things one way and not show above this and we like blame and excuses. We have a problem with celebrating success and we undervalue people and skill... especially the accumulative and transferrable varieties. We perpetrate the mistruth of ‘luck’ and miss-inform people that we can all achieve profound fortune. That's a heavy load- yes, choice defines our direction, but I in no way believe we can dictate all of our decisions- we must work from what we have in the current situation. Ripples- build upon ripples. Is it any wonder our society is un-empowered- we constantly feel we can’t get it ‘right’, people feel bumped from all angles- internally and externally. Personal greatness comes in many forms… some doesn't look too flash to others…
Interrogation- predominantly utilised upon ourselves is reflective of intellectual snobbery and subliminal superiority. It creates crippling self-doubt within ourselves and creates shockwaves of insecurities within others. Through this, we penalise those less ingenious from trying to just get the job done in the manner they choose to try and do it. Not eating the right diet? not going to the gym enough? not doing the ‘right’ things with our kids? No rego, no permit, no degree, no prior experience... just not sure? With all this external expenditure of energy into other people's business or the surety of our own, it’s no wonder we feel depleted and in need to reach for things or people to fill these voids & cracks.
Was it Tom Cruise's character in Eyes Wide Shut that said something to the effect of 'morals are the obsession of the middle class'...? A heinous statement in some respects but one with validity all the same. When you're hungry, desperate or have 'nothing to loose' or, you make the rules, or can buy your way through them, you're not obsessing about strategising alternatives. Get the job done the way you choose with certainty. Self doubt, complacency and indecision is more harmful than anyone else's opinion.
Welcome Home.. I’ve been in New Zealand under 4 1/2 minutes, arriving in the wee hours after traveling long haul from Amman to Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi to Brisbane, Brisbane to Wellington. I’m hangin’ out at the baggage carousel; a lady walks past me and remarks about my attire. 'Well ain't you underdressed for this city love, you’re going to have a few problems’ she remarks towards my sleeveless red playsuit and referring to the nipply temperatures awaiting outside- to which I happily giggle and reply 'I'm a Wellingtonian honey; we're built tough & we like it chilly!’… inwardly groaning and in the back of my mind thinking.. umm nup, this has actually been perfect for travelling 25 hours..?!
Excuse me?- Who are you?! And why should I even feel compelled to gratify you with a response? Imagine if I hadn't been from Wellington- what a way to say 'Welcome!' no?! You are certainly not really worried about my comfort for you would have offered me a coat, and if you had wanted to have a conversation, I believe you may have slowed down rather than commenting as you walked past- jealous perhaps; can’t quite bring yourself to say- ‘I like what you are wearing’ so feel the urge to drag me down to gain a little power play.. yesss now I think we’re onto it.
Ironically this little interaction was actually perfect timing towards my mullings and musings.
Psychological warfare, power-play, control, interaction, expression and identity. I’ve learnt amazing things and recognised validity in my observations over the years in the last three months, but unfortunately they don't play out too great for my loved homeland.
The four main controls: ‘Woe is me’, ‘Interrogator’, ‘Intimidator’ and ‘Aloof’. Fascinating strategies huh… but lets take a closer look at what these really mean in society today shall we, because the outward use of these on each other is really nothing to what we are doing internally either. We like the concepts of doing good here in NZ and of karma, but we are crap to ourselves… that’s just as bad as hurting another yeah nah yeah!
The example above was a rather timely illustration of ‘Interrogator’. Putting someone else down in order to gain a feel good boost by taking a stance of superiority. I feel this lady felt she had it all together- she was prepared and had supremacy to my inadequacy in her eyes. Strategies employed upon another give an interesting indication towards what that person likes to pull upon themselves also- for many people don’t differentiate between personal/ professional, internal/ external, expressive/ intellectual. I feel for her children, I feel for her colleagues, I feel for her- my, my her standards are high.
Unusual? No. In Kiwi-land this type of interaction is rather common place. People’s level of interactive entitlement and self-righteousness is higher than anywhere else in the world; it’s not unusual for people you've never met to lean over and interject, fling a passing comment or add their two cents worth. MOST times these are kind, helpful, funny or build a sense of camaraderie, but they can be quite the opposite also and it’s out of your control if and when it’s going to happen to you. There can be something rather disconcerting about having to deal with this when ya leave the house. This doubt, these seeds of uncertainty can become poisonous to those who can remember and collect them. Feel those daggers in your back when you're dressed to impress? They might was well be real in this country because I would argue- that sensory pain does far more longterm damage than what that wound feels like in actuality because of how we comprehend and understand it.
Happiness and a sense of elation is a sign, recognised the world around of success. An outward display of personal contentment and joy; a thing of beauty and to be celebrated. In NZ this is actually a little backwards; happiness can become an affliction unless you build that hide tough- it's going to bring you some unusual challenges. Where joy spreads lightness among others in overseas environments- sharing a feeling of warmth, here, at times, it brings you the opposite- jealousy, criticism, envy and even more dangerously it incites people to sabotage or de-validate achievement. People take joy in breaking others and dragging them down. 'What are you talking about??!!- we are rated one of the 'happiest' nations in the world!'.. yes, apparently. Look around you, travel a little and compare, we're not- I don't know how we are measuring this statistic, but I can sure as f*&%k share that when you've been immersed in other cultures around the globe which ARE happy, when you arrive home there is a distinct and startling difference... and hey, these are only my impressions- perhaps you see another side :)
In NZ people are not valued- neither is individual skill- people believe in equality in a broad societal sense. We are brought up to think we ‘can do anything’; that anyone can gain the skills to be incredible. We are not built equal, I do not believe in this concept- some have talents, skills or natural dispositions that others cannot acquire. Through years of hard work and selection, choices and direction we can grow and hone these building blocks- but it is not by accident or ‘natural selection’ that some rise to greatness or find personal contentment. Unfortunately there is a common acceptance in this society that some are ‘luckier’ than others- this is not the case- some have fortune because they have worked for it, and they have figured out where there directions, passions and strengths lie... attributes still come with problems; and problems come with attributes. I build my amazing life, my skills, my talents, my connections, my work, overcoming my problems and growing my ripples. I will not standby and tolerate people wanting to take that away from me, nor slight, demean or control others by not validating their achievements and growth; nor obstruct them for wanting to have more or be better. A little side note.. we don't get things we desire if we hate the people or situations that currently have them ;)
Twice in the last two weeks I have had conversations on the topic of 'wealth distribution' which got me thinking on a deeper metaphoric level. Wealth, value and success.. the internalisation of these qualities imo is far more important initially to a person's growth and vision than the external- yet it is often the superficial manifestation that people get hung up on. Obligation, duty, expectations to share- there are extraordinary pressures that can come with feeling flush let alone being flush; and the manifestations of luxury both external and internal. To be open, approachable and amicable; to achieve, to allow others access to our gifts, our energy and fortune- where do people receive recognition for the distribution of their spiritual or conceptual wealth? Sharing talent is the gift of those endowed with affluence (personal fortunes)... it can be found in places of 'poverty' and of 'hardship'. If society doesn't validate or celebrate 'fortune' and 'success' in her less literal manifestations; our extent of poverty is far reaching indeed. How do we enlighten people that 'wealth' is the responsibility of the individual? and how to we encourage people to value themselves and moderate feelings of guilt, self worth and obligation when there are excessive pressures to constantly give ones energy, ones resources and ones reserves?
We have interesting complications and they seem to be compounding quickly. Scarily- to undo this, the main work comes down with numero uno. Unhelpfully, people are scared to talk honestly about their feelings for it having consequence upon their jobs, their livelihood and their opportunities.. and well, there's not a lot of courage to speak out about being disgruntled or dissatisfied- the increase in cost of living doesn't just effect logistics it greatly effects freedom of speech. You want to feel personal achievement in a professional environment- well that ain’t going to come from a community where those cannot validate personal achievement within themselves. Here again, is why it is very important to define and follow doing the things you enjoy and that bring you happiness- personal sucess comes from ticking off and chasing those personal goals. I cannot stress highly enough my encouragement to those of creative and ambitious dreams- GET OVERSEAS and slide a 'Big Picture' jigsaw piece in there. Yes, I'm not encouraging fantasy, I'm actually working on a project which helps others who have desire and drive to do just that. Just as an artist has to walk away from an artwork to get space, reflection and perspective, a person needs experience in other cultures to get fresh outlooks on their life.
I love being in a country where I am respected; as is- as a human who is presented well and who is striving to do her best. Little things can make me really warm. Travelling around Italy and having chocolatey breakfasts with decadent croissants, strong ass coffee and Nutella makes my little soul sing- I shit you not that you can get raised eyebrows and little interjected comments eating this in NZ... shall I tell more stories?- God forbid you feed it to your little ones in public arrfg. The Nutella or croissant, perhaps, not the coffee... but well, kiddies in Japan love that also and that brings up a story about hitchhiking in the Land of the Rising Sun with a Bichon Frise ricocheting around a smart car filled with oversized stuffed plushie-toys being fed ice coffee from a bottle... the things I experience hehehe!! Even though I don’t personally drink booze, I adored walking into a petrol station where ya can buy fantastic bread, cheese, meats and alcohol to put together a picnic or dinner on the go. God I laugh at what would happen if we attempted to implement this in my homeland- we are not even able to drink a wine on our own beaches or in our parks… Trust issues eh... This investment into others wellbeing gets on my nerves- ‘it’s not good for you’ so this has been put in place- now adhere to it or else. Excuse me? I’m intelligent enough to make up my own mind thank you, and I don't need your opinion; nor should I be penalised if I find that my choice is incorrect, NOR should our past misdemeanours hang over us like noose impeding being able to give things another try within fair appraisal. Ie. just cos one dickhead ruined it, doesn't mean we all need to suffer ta, or just because something shyite happens doesn't mean a new legislation needs to be drafted. Life is about having a little naughty with the nice no?, and shit. happens. Responsibility… why does NZ feel it’s up to others to control this?
We encourage people to capitalise on ‘Woe is Me’, we berate ourselves internally using ‘Intimidation’ and ‘Interrogator’ about our diets, choices, decisions and appearances. We 'Interrogate' others psychologically and through other means to share and distribute their resources. We ignore and act ‘Aloof’ to those who deserve credit, we ‘Interrogate’ each other though email communication rather than resolving issues and conflict face-to-face and use litigation and fear strategies rather than just being personable. We control our society though ‘Intimidation’ by imposing intellectual superiority upon those of lesser means and we give completely inappropriate strategies to those less fortunate and then un-empower them when they don’t reach impossible ideals.
Ironically for a country that is built with pioneer spirit from all nations (that includes present tense- it takes a huge amount of this to emigrate here); people wanting a new system away from established structures; we have become more repressive than the lands we have departed from. Like over protective and anxious shepherds incessantly corralling and protecting our flock; we meddle, we worry and we leave nothing to natural order. Hey!- the flock is smart & the flock has grown.. there are sheep, there are wolves, there are rabbits.. hell! There’s the whole damn ark (lol). This strangle-hold will prove to do no good. It's choice that defines progression- if people are not enabled to make these in variation, for better or worse, growth becomes stereotypical and stunted and learning is formulaic and limited. 'What will be, will be'... super close to 'Inshallah' ("God (Allah) willing" or "if God(Allah) wills").. there is method to these statements; there's only so much a human can manipulate.
Self assurance and harmony comes from balance and a sense that one’s energy expelled is evenly replenished with energy gathered & consumed. In Western society we individually give an awful lot of this away in our interactions. We are taught to radiate outwards, but I came to realise while in Jordan, and through personal experience- we are not encouraged to develop the skills on how to reflect that back inwards or to moderate and reserve this technique. Our emotional intelligence is criplingly low. Those places with faith; the concept of a power bigger than ego on a big community scale; a power which can replenish and help a person with things that they themselves can’t manage, enables a person to have a link to that returning energy loop. It also helps us when we are not as far out on the ripples to find appreciation and solidarity within where we are, while getting to where we want to be- i.e that by continuing to do our best with what is present we can work towards a better future… this requires managing emotions i.e not freaking out, remaining calm and not throwing toys out of baskets or at others; constantly reframing back to what is good- even if that's minuscule.
Using a coping strategy or being involved in an addiction, to whatever it may be that a person wants to refill that void with (the feeling of being zapped mentally and /or physically) to top up their energy is the physical manifestation of trying to tie back in that replenishment of energy and love. It’s essential to learn about our emotions and feelings in order to do this- a little faith and trust is required in ourselves and in things working out ok. That ‘f’ word- I’m not just talking of a religious concept of ‘faith’- but if one chooses so, that may be where they find that link to love. Personally I find that link back to my beliefs of something bigger without being associated to a particular doctrine, rather to many and within my own conceptual developments (that includes the science and medical doctrine toooo); and within the activities that facilitate me being able to connect into happiness and a greater sense of lightness- the sea, the air, speed, movement, creative output. However, creative output has an awful lot of external energy expenditure associated- it’s historically well documented how this and addiction go hand in hand- how many artists, dancers, poets and other magnificent minds can we name who use(d) vices?- is it no wonder within cultures that radically think outside the box we are finding increases in coping strategies?! Plus, we can’t take away everyone’s strategies and not help replace them with better ones now can we??!! Smoking a fag takes a much shorter time than teaching oneself how to recognise the rise, fall and patterns of one’s anxiety now doesn’t it…. although imo, it should be my choice if I want to stay with the fag option to start with… everything in moderation consideration… and not everyone has the capacity to want to change.
Middle Easterners do not expel personal energy in the same format to Westerners- they are far more discrete and reserved- and I would say far more emotionally intelligent when it comes to a level of selection about how and when they radiate their emotional investment into others. We hold perspectives of ‘repression’ and ‘restriction’; we judge from our own West view because we only understand how we ourselves live and behave- taking their reservation for oppression; thinking our way is the best way to be- but I think there is a lot of method here which is very, very valuable and very misunderstood… and faaaar more developed. Oh how the media loves to wangle the burka & hijab- in Jordan, there are people of a great cross section of contemporary and traditional identity choices. Again, what is not chic about having things reserved for those we have selected of value to share with? Fascinating ideas for humanity innit when we start seeing how people have evolved socially to live together- for how we keep ourselves well, and for how we can come to understand each other much better and ultimately diffuse conflict and self-righteousness.
Conflict- we would like to say this is external. West; we like to point fingers over there to Middle East when we hear this word, but boy oh boy, I tell ya, we have this in far more dangerous form in our Antipodean communities. They might have the physical amphitheatres and places where gladiators battled, they might have flash points of war currently- but we all have created the psychological war grounds; the media of our criticisms; our ideals and projections upon each other; tell tales and mistruths of disgrace and disesteem.
Equality v balance. We seem obsessed with striving for the former and we are quick to pronounce other cultures which we perceive to not have these ‘rights’. I see far more value in the latter; balance, than the former. I vehemently believe in fairness but equality? We have different strength and weaknesses from physical to intellectual; we should strive to highlight and celebrate our power not deficiencies. Womens rights, roles and liberty… there are different guises in different cultures of these- just because they do not look like our Western format does not mean there is not balance there. The women I spoke to in Jordan in no way felt repressed and were angry about the portrayal of this within the media- as were my fair sisters in Kashmir. Their value in their communities and families was celebrated- no, it’s not the 'same' at times to their male partners and colleagues- but they’re praised and valued; recognised and celebrated for their skills making quality of living equations. And all of this is changing- with more choices, more exposure to opportunities, they are making decisions for themselves towards their dreams and education while incorporating these into their customs and relationships… that takes a lot of changes to preconditioning… that’s a lot for any human to take on. As I’ve said before- I’m the alien in this new land- it’s up to me to modify and take things on the nose if needed while finding a place where I hold my values and identity also while being open to new perceptions.. interesting balancing games eh. Queen Rania of Jordan is a shining leader in women’s rights, education and empowerment and her contemporary views and style, both of concept and presentation, is leading strong and unfettered Jordanians into a bright and fertile future- God I admire this woman. Rome wasn't built in a day peps- good things take time.
The history within Jordan of previous civilisations is at times daunting, overwhelming and completely humbling. I was struck a little jaw-dropped-oogle-like in Petra, Jerash and latter in Rome. At the ancient city of Gerasa just outside Jerash. I’d come to an intersection (above)- a meeting place literally from the four points of the compass for traders to arrive from neighbouring countries and much further afield. As I looked down, the paving stones below had grooves; ruts from oodles of years of chariots, carts, barrows and feet. Humans for centuries moving over the place where I stood at that point- that’s a bit mind blowing when we unpackage it; people living, dreaming, doing things, loving, crying and evolving; millions of stories- all varied, all different, all unique. Coming present day, in 200 years, this progression, this evolution and this hunger for energy has taken an exponential curve upwards. We are all hungry, hungry for more-ness of everything... and even if you're not into the stuff- you're getting energy in and from other things, people and places.
There is just so much variation here- from pristine beaches to the red sands and majestic rock formations of Wadi Rum; the ancient ruins of Petra to the seaside of ‘Aquaba. The variations of colours from light aqua’s and gem coloured blues to iridescent oranges, peach, magenta’s, violet's and the soft creams of stoned cities to the eye popping red’s due to the the filtered UV light. The quietest city I have ever visited; Amman’s sounds of birdsong and the calls from the mosques reverberate in my memory with happiness alongside the irridecent red poppies- there is a calmness that permeates this location which is heart warming. From breathing in the oxygen rich air of The Dead Sea and experiencing bobbing like a cork in the mineral rich water, to flying upside-down over the desert in a Hawker Hunter fighter jet and an Extra 300L… I can’t articulate how much fun and excitement THAT is... especially when ya've got the controls weeeeeee!… all I’ll say is MORE MORE MORE!! =^+^=
There is so much vibrancy, there is so much LIFE! There is so much fun, laughter, warmth and value here; it’s so very graceful- I hope my writing defames some of the fallacies floating around and alleviates inner concerns about coming to Jordan to travel and/or conduct business. You have nothing to fear. It’s just yum… doooo ittttt.
New cultures, old cultures… when it comes down to it- biologically we are all made of similar stuff- BUT we have conditionings that are different; neural pathways and flash-points which are different. Varied orientations for energy needs and ways of sharing these; and contrasting ideas that we believe in- all this shapes how we can progress, what makes us tick or repells us and how receptive or defensive we are to new information. Communication delivery can make a ginormous difference- most people don't like being told they are ‘wrong’ or finding out that a thing or ideology they have believed in can be done a different way or that there are other means to an end- and people can’t do things when they are scared. This can be confronting stuff. If however, we can take the fear associated with change away; if we can show opportunity for discovery by loosening off a notch, we can make headway into areas of productivity and development. Fear of the unknown, fear of letting go, fears of not having enough… fears of others getting ahead further than we are… fears of not doing the 'right' thing... those feelings all lie inside not outside. We need to talk, we need to encourage others to have opportunities to get together to discuss face-to-face our ideas, or tribulations; our concepts and honest viewpoints; we need to mingle. Trust in our good judgements not panic at prospective terrors, trust in natural order (NZ stop freaking out that shit would go chaotic if it’s left to develop without being nanny’d) and respect the intelligence of our world inhabitants and individual decisions.
The more people experience suppression, the more people want change, and this shows foremost within our youth. If we are not educated; emotionally educated as to how to deal with the rollercoaster of reorientation and the personal confrontation of difference, we will only fracture our societies rather than grow forwards with solidarity. We are all Kings and Queens of empires- the personal spaces of our thoughts and emotional orientation, and ultimately the lives we live and the choices which define them. Act reverent, act with grace, act with faith in your decisions and be proud of what you have achieved and what you will make happen in the future. إن شاء الله
I'm fed up with the English language- it's retarding-ly constrictive and limited. It’s totally useless for describing the complex and finikity differences between feelings and impressions. Sanskrit, Japanese, Arabic, Burmese and countless more mature culture’s linguistic expressions have variations and multiples of similar-but-just-a-smidgend-different for the 'same' thing/ adjectives/ nouns, e.g. beautiful or rain. It’s this that initially drew my fascination with learning Japanese- there is just so much more colour to play with… and yep, I’ve now totally fallen for Burmese which I have started accumulating... I've been rather keen to get Mahjong under my belt too if anyone wants to learn how to play with me!
I feel ridiculous saying 'I love Myanmar'. I feel so much more than this over-utilised and rather boring and beige word.. to take advantage of a descriptive terminology from a loved one of mine- it makes me ’t w i t t e r p a t e d’. Yep- that mental image of Thumper thrumming his foot in adulation and enjoyment kind of comes close to what being here does inside of me! This inability to articulate the kaleidoscopic ambit of what ‘love’ can be and feel like, directly shines light upon our uneducated comprehension towards even the different types of ‘love’ one can feel yar?
By now you have probably ascertained it's rather hard for me NOT to adore somewhere or at least particular facets within- I have an ability to find the good in almost anything. But Myanmar, well, I'm speechless & surprised. She is utterly illuminating.
The unquestionably number one thing about Myanmar that is totally friggin rainbows and unicorns- the peooooople =^+^=
For me, here is the best of everything I truly adore and value. Keep in mind however, experience is entirely exclusive- this is my kettle of fish for my terms, the older we get, the bigger our back catalogue of what works for us becomes. I am exploring and creating upon concepts based on my unique purposes and decisions- not something I am being told to do or that is being presented to me by another. I live by following and listening to those around me and working from ripples that are created by these encounters. A year and a half ago I met a beautiful woman who enlightened me to three things, and coming here was part of the third one- I am beyond joy to be here and engaged in these experiences.
Myanmar's geography is diverse and exquisite. From air, the golden pagoda’s, monasteries and temples twinkle and glinkle below from fertile red iron rich soil in the North, to the hot planes of around Bagan and up into the mountains, around lakes, alongside rivers, waterfalls and in villages & cities. Mixing the best of hints of America and the West, India and Thailand with elegance and sophistication, quality, open friendliness and a genuine passion for fun and the enjoyable; Burmese culture tickles me in all the places I'm most tender. People, energy, history, positivity, beauty, value, fortune (of people and resources), creative expertise and excellence, reverence towards Nature, and a sense of pride and individuality which is admirable and elite.
North Mandalay Moto, Dee Dote waterfall, National Kandawgyi Gardens, Pyin Oo Lwin, filling' up & trying to cool down the tyres and motorbike in 43++ deg heat ;)
Burma is superb to travel around- flights are efficient, the roads are the best I have seen and ridden anywhere in the world, everyone is extraordinary giving in sharing their company, I love this. Hooowever..there are a few interesting things- there are no motorbikes allowed in Yangon, places often have two, three or four different and valid names, you cannot hire a car to drive by yourself and there are areas and particular places that are closed off to tourist view- and why not?! I asked myself- what’s not dignified about having a little something special hidden for only a select few or kept in private? There is a guide/ driver system to see things so if you like your taxi driver, take his card and make buddies. And for the moto- get thee to Mandalay and get ya leg over something!
There is a darker side to this for citizens of Myanmar however- they're freedoms of movement are purposely restricted within their cities and country. Motorbikes are banned in Yangon because the government believes they are linked to underground activities and criminal associations; there is no rail or ease of transport for locals to navigate this city either. When it takes a long time to get from A - B, it takes a long time to get things done, and when prices and currency are split into 'local' and 'tourist' the primary demographic that can afford to move is from outside the country. Flights have citizen and foreign national allocations and guide systems abound- Burma's cultural identity is unique and authentic.. but how much of this is because those at the top are taking it upon themselves to keep others in the shadows?
Cityscapes, landscapes, and the beauty of variation in Myanmar
USD has an interesting supremacy- it's interchangeable with Kyat and there are a few other thought-provoking influences… makes my mind connect little links in what’s happening with the military and governmental systems- we mimic those we admire. Driving is right roadside -with right drive cars which is kinda cool- yet, it's like India so 'right' is a loosely termed suggestion hehe… I have an intense fondness for being able to make a u-turn on a highway to go down the ‘wrong side’ to get to a fruit-shop selling green mango slices that are dipped in chilli powder. On commerce- prices stated, price required- there is no need to barter (in most instances- but ya may get a whiff of your leg being pulled in tourist spots) so please don’t hit Myanmar thinking it’s India or other nations where this is admissible. Myanmar is safe, Burmese are very fair, and I appreciate being able to show my gratitude to those in the service and creative industries by topping up what I remunerate people for. It breaks my heart that because of the value of currency in particular countries, the people within are at deficits to being able to save enough to travel and experience other nations- it is so very, very unfair that the world is beyond the fingertips of a great proportion of our citizens- you can see but you can’t touch, urrrg ;( As we know, not being able to attain something only builds the compulsion, for better or worse, to want it even more.
The further north I traveled from Mandalay the more I noticed influences from India. Actually, more North stirred a great affection within me- I haven't left yet and still I can’t wait to come back and explore further. Luscious gardens, manicured farmland and back roads of a motobabe’s dreams. The reflective windows and coloured houses reminded me of Kashmir and cuisine started to take in the funky mix of Indian, Burmese and Thai which is completely up my alley- so.seriously.damn.good.
Fear and Self have been concepts in the forefront of my mind in the last week. My culture (and I’m not saying this isn't found here- it’s everywhere in different proportions wearing different guises, I’m doing a comparison between contrasts) is conditioned to think of the worst, plan for the worst, tell each other about the worst, drop a pill and remove the worst, take excuses for the worst… I believe we’re actually bring calamity upon ourselves by doing this and our anxiety, mistrust and cynicism impedes our abilities at openness, compassion, empathy and ultimately success. Perhaps a real (ok totally simplified) example would help- in my country we bundle ourselves up in layers of protective gear when riding motorbikes, playing sports and doing all sorts of other things (even overly protecting our youngsters)- we’re all about ‘insurance’ or ensuring ‘safety’ and looking after numero uno in order to go faster, bigger, further… Yes, there is a different psychology at play which gives merit to this attitude- people aren’t as careful with each other as in Asia- i.e respect levels of road users is different yada yada- but where are we going 1} with all the inflation, pushing, rush, self entitlement and 2} with being overly fixated on the negative what if's and making people do things a certain way aaand 3} with our obsessive need for self preservation?
In order to be a better explorer, I got to grips early on with death, safeguarding and risk- factors that are of no imposition to my desicison making, but thoughts of process and/ or consequence. It's the desire for living that keeps me alive not the fear of death or pain or hurt- that just brings it all the more into focus. That physical harm, that's actually totally minimal in comparison to the phycological barriers of what I'm really pushing through- insecurities, rejection, anxiety,,, the chunky stuff. I do my best to mindfully make choices that reflect what I'm hoping for and where I want to be. However, I can be critical, overly analytical, egocentric, nit-picky about details, and because of my history- I am well acquainted with the four strategies of stealing power (Woe is me, Intimidation, Aloof & Interrogator), and hold high standards and expectations upon those around me and myself; Mindfullness includes eeeeeverything, it's not pick & choose. I'm very proud of how far I have rolled from the tree considering what has happened to me and what I have had to un-condition myself from. How many of our traits that make us successful, if directed into the wrong situation, steal energy from another in order to do this?
Challenges and tribulations have to happen in order for us to learn and test our metal, it’s not about trying to prevent these things all the time and it’s not about blaming the ‘system’ when detrimental things do happen- we must encourage others to dig deep- there is almost always a bigger message for the individual in there. No-ones got the full package of anything, because just by having a particular trait, means the opposite is lacking unless one has decided to develop this also. Some of us may split ways in this type of metaphysical thinking and that’s totally cool, but I’ll share something I see, the patterns the world around of those with happy fulfilled lives, and those in troubled waters have basis in belief.
In Asia, people just get on with it in whatever way ya want to roll that in, and they are not neurotically ‘worried'- I’m totally attracted to that. I had to train myself out of an upbringing that told me to worry about everything. It's meant I'm rather passionate about encouraging 'dem apples to not drop next to the tree, rather to roll all the way down the hill, through the river and into the next forest!! I really, really like watching how everyone can do things slightly differently yet all get to an end goal together- there is harmony within this. I need more time here, I want to dig deeper, I want to learn more than just what three weeks can give me hints towards, because I’m better here, and this in turn means I'm better to those around me also. Extreme luxury to me is the fortune to take these opportunities. Myanmar is so energising, inventive, constructive and fertile (totally in awe of peoples motivation in 42+ heat!). I haven't felt as safe anywhere in the world as I do here- and actually last night as I was wandering around- I realised there are no homeless- an interesting indication of a society being able to get things balanced ethically. There is a fizz within this land of people being up to things- citizens in Myanmar have purpose.
Most humans resort to increasing their own personal energy by a manner that was ingrained or passed down to them; we all at times psychologically steal it from others- often unconsciously, this type of mental warfare underlies all human conflict. We at times feel the need to control and dominate each other. I have lived a life which has had extreme experiences of being on both sides of the fence within this type of abuse and strategy. Through interaction we can either be empowered or discouraged; powerful or weak depending on what is happening. We humans then like to turn to one’s advantage the dynamic in order to facilitate a phycological boost. This need for control is ultimately because we want a feel good pick-me-up, or because we want to keep getting a ‘hit’ from a person or interaction. This give-and-take if out of balance can become dangerous. Restricting, limiting, or trying to predetermine someone's emotional response; ultimately manipulating another's spirit and freedoms, is completely counterproductive if we want to achieve intimacy, fellowship and solidarity. Many relationships transition and fizzle or eventually turn into power struggles; we connect our energies and then fight over who is going to control it, or we use what is available and then require something different, or, one of the parties becomes no longer invested or disinterested. The loser of this battle always pays the price. Older societies; places which have faith and resonance, have a sociological advantage upon others with achieving happiness because of this type of ‘feeling’ and interactive play; an artistry and ability to let interaction flow and develop through spiritual companionship rather than competition.
A little side note to that- I encounter an intriguing variety of tourist on my travels in the world which attend other countries sites of worship. Ones that sometimes come with many judgements- ‘Hurmph! NEON- WHY would you incorporate this into a beautiful historical temple??!’. ‘Humm, taking photos on your iPhone- disrespectful!’. ‘Grr, giggling and laughing with the children- really??!’… and the funny thing is, I sit, and I wonder- and I giggle, because I think, ‘wow- all these self imposed restrictions; all the 'rules'; all the inflexibility.. don’t you see the negativity is the square peg in the round hole; that you’re flowing upstream not the other way around? A wise woman once said to me seven or so years ago 'Take the path of least resistance', I didn't get it at that point- I was surrounded and conditioned to opposition and battle, but I get it now; it stayed with me and I implemented new choices underwritten by this ideal, and as they accumulated, only good flowed from them. Faith is in essence about holding hope for the better- it’s a rather fun and enjoyable process. I love Asia’s sense of playfulness and integration. Why would you think that we are allowed to want to seek beauty and value in cultures outside our conditioning, yet those cultures are not allowed to seek and desire beauty out of theirs? Everyone likes the green grass on the other side no?
Humanity likes to get a little jacked up from time to time. Whether that’s on booze, or tea, sugar, cigarettes, betel or paan chew, marijuana, Tramadol or coke.. or even just getting high off a cool meeting. I find an interesting level of hypocrisy or unawareness within some travellers of things that they despise from their homeland, yet are totally ok with within their new environment- they don’t see it’s just the same thing in a different package. Some are hellbent on criminalising people who smoke hooch or methamphetamine in their homeland, yet your cabbie here is high on betel all the same… oh but you're ok with that now cos it’s all exotic? Why ya not extending the same curtesy to your fellow human when you're back on turf huh? Without independent thought I would never have experienced the plethora of things I have, and followed the paths that I decided I wanted to explore- but the ‘naughty’ stuff? Well tbh, that was where all the best learning came from or initiated me to undertake steps to change. Independent thought can be a bitch- it gets ya into unusual places and can alienate a person from their social systems, yet it’s precisely the same trait that means they’re going to find and do things a totally different way and have the capacity for unbridled brilliance.
Acceptance of sensory expression, or a more mature understanding about the natures of life without being prudish; sex, touch, personal space, what we do that’s healthy or a little not so; just doing things cos they feel nice; this stuff is so different here in Asia to my homeland. Doing something a little subversive doesn’t mean you are a bad person or not part of a functioning society- your working for progression not perfection; + you've gotta have spunk & intelligence to be curious and go against the grain. Perhaps people are less interested in squeezing people into boxes here because they understand far more boxes- they certainly have words for them. Why do we alienate others except for not understanding those parts of ourselves? and a little off tack but on the same stream further along (because it’s tied into how we help a person undo something that has become less productive) Why is the compulsion towards financial gain given priority over enjoyment?
Tourism love and hate: In some ways I am responsible for undermining and changing this beautiful land and that makes me uncomfortable so I do my damned best each day to make sure that my influence is positive- but even this is an oxymoron of a type- we see something we like and we want to mimic and replicate these things. All around the world we are influencing each other by interacting- we can be in remoteness and yet we pull out our iPhones and connect into WIFI to chat and touch base with our buddies on Insta the world round saying ‘oooOo ahh! Look, look, see, see, I love, I like, I don’t, I feel.. listen to me’- never before have we been so persuasive. I hear of communities here selling artefacts and heirlooms in order to capitalise and purchase items of Westernism and this make me really sad- yet why not? We humans are lusty- it matters not what the ‘thing’ is- we have every right to want to progress in any manner we see fit- my issue is that without education and encouragement towards being proud and protective of difference, we’re all going to slowly become homogenised. Rebel against the system? Yes- but as I have said before, the systems are mighty subtle and subliminal these days- the biggest are internal.
I admire Burmese for holding true to their distinctiveness and creating unique hybrids- the fashion, the food, the societal, religious and creative processes are sooo cool. Yes there is influence from all around, but here seems to me to have got the oil and water mix just right- Burmese are self assured and they are carefully selective. I like that- it reflects a mindfulness and respectfulness that I hold in high esteem.
Some of us see and feel the world a little differently, I see colours and a type of energy in tangible form and I have met others over the years who have similar skills of perception- it is only a matter of time until we will be able to measure this. The Monroe Institute is an example of an establishment pioneering discoveries through thinking and feeling outside (and all around and above!) the box. Through this understanding, as some of us have already grasped, we will be better at helping ourselves and those less fortunate. We will become increasingly more attuned to the buoyancy and play between the mind and the Universe and more empathetic to the value of people and places; our collective conscious of the physical universe will transform. We will accept that certain people and locations radiate more or different energies, and we will fight with fervour to protect the value of old natural environments like forests and places of archaeological, social and cultural significance. We are getting there- there is a powerful and constructive movement towards this type of development happening. Without gaining expertise within these traits, humanity will not be prepared to take the next step in evolution; of exploration and ultimately advanced colonisation and interaction with the unfamiliar; new environments, new materials and new organisms.
It's in the details- architecture, art and gorgeous things
Going back in history nearly 900 years we left a place where ‘God’ (insert many, many names in here) and the concept of a higher power was clearing defined or told to us. Buuut we got curious, we decided there was a bigger picture, we were missing something and we started exploring and questioning our world and doctrines. We decided we needed to make our world more comfortable and we wanted ‘proof’ in things before we would believe in them because our curiosity came coupled with a sense of rejection from that which had seen so stable and solid. We progressed, we fashioned contraptions, we made things, we discovered industrialisation and that we could use ores, minerals and materials to create mediums and make instruments. We invented power sources, systems and fabrication. We stockpiled, we collected and we distributed. ‘Progression’- the desire of self for security… but we lacked Truth, we were missing a puzzle piece and our obsessive drive to conquer and create comfort left natural systems purged and polluted. ‘The apex of cultural motive’- those who are awake can see through this fixation and past what others call ‘coincidence’ or ‘luck’. We are here to evolve but we are designed to do this while protecting and nurturing those things; those people; and those energy sources available- living within means not excess. All we need is less, we have within ourselves far more than most realise- if we can decompartmentalise our fears, we can convert them to adour- and this transformation creates a powerful volition- we realise we no longer need control upon others or material goods to fix/ fill/ or restrain these voids- we fill up from within and we are at ease with the flux of replenishment and use that occurs between each other. We additionally find that our thoughts coupled with temper can quite literally manifest to create our desires, directions and opportunities.
When we can define what a person loves, we also have insight and the power of deduction to ascertain what a person hates; with this information, we can not only build a person up and encourage them, but we can also manipulate or undo them. With so many becoming increasingly lax about how much information is available in the former mode, I wonder if people were encouraged to 'dislike' things as much as 'like' them, they would be as keen to give people power over their persuasion. Humanity is becoming more aware of how our emotional orientation can quite literally invest propulsion upon another for better or worse, but we come to a split in viewpoints. Ones which have similarities but also the capacity to incite enormous hostility; those of religious doctrine, and those of spiritual self discovery. Without empathy and acceptance of difference and the validity of contrasting opinion, we will forever be locked at a roadblock.. yet change all starts within snuggled up for a hug with a desire-for-the-better, one adjustment, one little step in a new direction.... I can't affect on mass; I can't stop war in Syria, I don't have sway upon new policitical or social directions, but I sure can turn my life around and help those around me to do the same. When it comes down it, there is no-one to manage anger, indignation, irritation and rage except for the person experiencing these feelings; THIS is what we need education and encouragement towards- this is ground zero of building love and sharing that penut-butter-and-jam with our international family; stripping away fear and persecution, and filling it with open ended comprehension. It takes ripples, accumulation over time of ripples, quite possibly generations of change of those showing those coming up a better way and teaching ourselves to validate beauty and worth within us, and within what is around us.
Connection, interaction, communication, relationships, interrelation, cultural similitude and difference, value, protection and development of natural resources, recognition and celebration of beauty and diversity; that flawed is perfect- all sound too Utopian? It’s already here if we have the capacity to change our mindset and take personal responsibility for our ideas, energy, direction and influence upon ourselves and others.
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Mind. Blown. ✔ ACHIEVED
Three weeks ago I got whiff of this place called Gulmarg way up in the Pir Panjal Range of the Himalayas in Kashmir. ‘Snowboarding in India?!’ I thought, ‘F#$& yes, now this sound fierce’. A place of publicised civil and political unrest with a contrasting culture; the location of the world’s highest gondola and where I could also partake in my Winter passions… lets. get. there. I decided. Here comes the Wild West of snow locales!
I had other motivations also. I had Muslim friends as a child and have many who practise this religion, but I have never had the opportunity to visit or stay within a predominantly Muslim community. With all the misinformation, fear mongering, benightedness and prejudice floating around about this particular ideology and associated customs, I saw this a golden opportunity to be acquainted with the unfamiliar. Kashmiri are desperate for liberty- something I hold very dear and I am interested in what is happening culturally within this environment. Unusual situations come with surprising, valuable and at times confronting lessons. I appreciate my freedoms even more now than I have previously and have addressed personal and societal concepts about desire, superiority and satisfaction which have been mighty interesting. I can empathises with Kashmiri’s fight for the next step up. Greed/ desire for better, different or for extra/ materialism/ indulgence- they are really close relatives aren't they.. I am compelled to seek, experience, and learn more.. does my love of variation, new connections and circumstances come from dissatisfaction?
Gulmarg is demanding, growly and fizzing- it’s got tension here- yes there are military, yes this is publicised as a high risk travel area, and yes, this was not somewhere my government nor anyone I know recommended me to come to… but push this aside and it is vibrant, unique, super edgy in a sexy wild way and most definitely alive. It’s not everyones thing to want to explore a ‘volatile conflict area’… or this is how the media would want you to perceive it. There is froth here, but this simmering indignation; this fieriness is towards India and being marginalised- is NOT directed at the tourist. If you are a sensitive soul however, you are most definitely going to feel crackle- people are spirited, they are passionate, and it comes over in their interactions, in their business deals and in the energy of this part of Kashmir (back to what I was talking about previous post in mirror reality). BUT ya'll, Just because you are passionate and fired up does NOT mean you are dangerous.
Gulmarg is a winter honeypot; the world round these are places of hiked prices and financial exploitation; money for beauty- money for comfort- money for fun. You're gunna pay for white gold as we say. The tourist wants everything for nothing and the local is trying to make a living in an inflated and grossly disproportionate economic bubble. The environment is pimped, the local culture is peddled and captured audiences of both visitors and locals are often subjected to being corralled into activities and directions where they can be capitalised from. This being both financial and emotional. Due to the guide and union systems here, it’s a little harder than normal to dodge and manoeuvre through and out of these things- but tbh, it’s the way of life, people need to capitalise off their expertise and I took it as a learning curve to get used to.
Us NZdrs can be rather pig headed and bloody minded about wanting to do and know everything for ourselves, and as a culture we are not free with our cash- sometimes, I learnt, I need to sit back and pay others to take me for the ride. For a fixer on the initially jarring personal interaction in Gulmarg- word gets around. I am not intimidated to say no and hold my own.. A International chick stands out; it’s not a big place, and after a little while you gather some respect, a few decent buddies and approbation towards yourself after managing chunky situations; these I inevitably get myself into cos I want to do things differently, but well, earning stripes doesn’t happen sitting around twiddling ya thumbs. I’m not a package deal kinda girl- I’m in organising and feeling things out for myself at ground level and I wouldn't trade this (at times harder road) for anything- it’s where all the magic happens. A bit of patience and being genuine and fair to those around me irons out a lot of kinks.
Here’s a brief overview thanks to our friends at Wiki: Kashmir is the northernmost geographical region of South Asia. Until the mid-19th century, the term "Kashmir" denoted only the valley between the Great Himalayas and the Pir Panjal mountain range. Today, it denotes a larger area that includes the Indian-administered territory of Jammu and Kashmir (subdivided into Jammu, Kashmir, and Ladakh divisions), the Pakistani-administered territories of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, and Chinese-administered territories of Aksai Chin and the Trans-Karakoram Tract.
In the first half of the 1st millennium, the Kashmir region became an important centre of Hinduism and later of Buddhism; later still, in the ninth century, Kashmir Shaivism arose. In 1339, Shah Mir became the first Muslim ruler of Kashmir, inaugurating the Salatin-i-Kashmir or Swati dynasty. Kashmir was part of the Mughal Empire from 1586 to 1751, and thereafter, until 1820, of the Afghan Durrani Empire. That year, the Sikhs, under Ranjit Singh, annexed Kashmir. In 1846, after the Sikh defeat in the First Anglo-Sikh War, and upon the purchase of the region from the British under the Treaty of Amritsar, the Raja of Jammu, Gulab Singh, became the new ruler of Kashmir. The rule of his descendants, under the paramountcy (or tutelage) of the British Crown, lasted until 1947, when the former princely state of the British Indian Empire became a disputed territory, now administered by three countries: India, Pakistan, and China.
Below, Fascinating articles from independent Kashmiri magazines. click on a slide to enlarge and read. Articles are consecutive from top left.
India fought for independence from British rule, it’s not on unreasonable grounds which Kashmir sets it’s vindication. Sadly, as is the way with war, it’s the little guys who get smothered and trodden on while the ones at the top grapple over land, money and power- raping, killing and pillaging what is the true value within their kingdom- their own people.
Kashmiri culture and society is distinctly different to their southern ‘Indian’ country(wo)men. Kashmir wants emancipation from India, and I can see why- they are very different societies with quite different ways of doing things. They are fighting for the concept of freedom and but they also want the plentiful (who doesn’t play with this dichotomy in life?!); more tourists, more development, ultimately more lucre. More more more, everyone is praying for more. The Indian tourists visiting the temples, the locals for more tourists, cash, and weather; the tourists for powder, sex and hasheesh, the army for more control. Spicy huh.
As a Westerner- you represent freedom; you are the living embodiment of exactly what everyone wants, can you blame people for wanting a piece? Whatever a visitor feels ain’t nothing in comparison to what these guys are living in and they challenges they face for livelihood, identity and quality of life- and my God they work hard. Your bang for buck is going to stretch miles, isn't it cool to help out those who really, really need it in the process? I’d rather be here than a resort in Europe aaaannnyday and seriously this terrain? These conditions? This is what we snow bunnies dream of.
I love a good barter but the goal posts moving within business transactions frankly pisses me off. Arrangements that get ‘unexpected’ additions are not cool- so get uber clear about what is being traded- loop holes can be large here, get into serious details and don't be intimidated by try ons, being rushed or mark ups to buy things in advance ie: day passes. Breathe, have a giggle and walk away if necessary. Expiry dates are mysteriously 1/2 missing, ‘extra’ costs will be cracked at (NO you do NOT need to pay for the toll on the way to Gulmarg, even if there are demands for you to get out of the car and do so- it is part of your fare), actual prices expand and deflate (I just find my own fair price within this), and if the techniques of straightforward demand doesn’t work, then aggression, and attempts at intimidation can also come out. Joy of joys- well, wrong lady chaps, try all you might I’m not scared, but this could be formidable for the uninitiated.
Kashmiri mostly despise the Indian army presence, but they are also in a rock and hard place needing the Indian tourist dollar. Shitty case of biting the hand that currently feeds? That’s why I want to give you a real insight into this magnificent area with fucking awesome people and things to do- cos they need a leg up; this media bullshit spins unnecessary fear into prospective visitors. You are going to need kahunas to be here if you are a woman travelling alone- I’m not going to gloss that, if you are an inexperienced traveller who finds being assertive challenging I would consider other options- but if you are a powder hound, can handle a little wildness and want to get slapped sideways with a crazy ride of winter coolness, then keep reading.
In some ways you are safer here than anywhere else in the world- there is so much scrutiny on the situation and bad press it works in your advantage- people genuinely want to see you have a good time and prove to you that there is fun, well-being and value in this land, their resources and their relationships. Kashmiri hospitality is something else- it’s such an incredible thing. I have been treasured and cherished while here, and immensely privileged to share my time and form relationships with Kashmiri who have an unbridled fervour for life. They in turn have won a place in my heart- I admire these people and adore this land.
SOOOO much here is good! Gulmarg is extraordinarily beautiful. As I said previously, it is also the location of the world’s highest gondola at 14000ft. There are ATV rides; hooning around the white blanketed countryside past Indian military all bravado, camo and with obvious fire power gets the rebel in me extra thankful for her freedom and provenance. There is fascinating cuisine and cool little snack shops with inflated chip packets which make me giggle regardless of what’s going on. I can’t help wondering what the army would do if they simultaneously exploded… There are snowboarding trails, hiking routes, Heli rides, Hindu temples, day trips, snowmobiling, spa’s, and there are really really amazing people to meet. The calls from the mosques, the smell of the incenses and buildings, the distinctive architecture of Srinagar, the mischievous monkeys, the feel and look of the pashmina’s & cashmere, local embroidery and crafts; and the different ways of doing the basics are fascinating and illuminating (like why do we waste so much bloody toilet paper??! So many places in the world don’t even use it..)
Actually another point comes to mind of why New Zealand is not implementing a charge for foreign nationals to visit and view our wondrous land and sights and help pay for the infastructure that is required to look after them because of this increased traffic? (We came close twice if I remember correctly..?) Why should residents be on the back foot to enjoy our country footing the bill for others mess (this is not a blame it's a case of different social conditioning towards behaviour like littering), and not have top priority to the wonders within, and/or have capital to promote and invest into development within these areas and associated cultural faculties? Pretty much every other country I have visited I'm charged (often on top of this there are two quite distinctly different price brackets for traveller/ local) and I see it as a small price to pay in relation to what I can experience- I'm honoured to be there! This lack of desire towards financial remuneration mirrors a much bigger problem in the psycology of NZ- people do not value, respect or appreciate the merit and worth of beauty- whether this is our sights, our expertise, ourselves or our hard earned skill sets. It's not an icky thing to have a price to pay for respect towards a particular and unique type of energy a place or a person possesses- but this is a rather funny concept for those from NZ- money is a touchy topic. Mastery and splendour are qualities to be cherished and rewarded and this requires digging in financially- feel good warm and fuzzies are great and all, but when you really mean it- ya put your money where your mouth (or eyeballs as the case maybe) is... and are ;)
However, here’s one for your bag of tricks- as a solo woman you are going to want to be sensitive to how you are navigating the hordes of male guides. The ol’ smiles-cure-any-issue technique is not going to win a lady mega points here. Talking or interacting with other male guides in abundance (um, well, as locals go there ain’t anyone else TO interact with.. local women are not out and about as much as our international sisters) gives the impression of wanting to play the market. I had got whiff of this possible message early on, but it’s not that easy like by yourself travelling here- you are approached from all angles, all the time (try dealing with people hopping into your cab from the airport and working through 8 guides all at your door vying for your attention. Not to mention being constantly approached when you walk anywhere- get ready for lots of snaps; small price to pay for all the ones I take of where I am I believe- and it kind of tickles me pink.. as long as you don't grab/ push/ yell at me mucho gracias) and I’m not one to shy away, I’ve been conditioned to hold my own. An icier Eastern-block-reminiscent-bitchy-resting-face character from my back catalogue was rather useful especially in the first two days doing business and finding the lie of the land. Eye contact is my first line of information and if necessary, defence- and thank you, I make my own mind up on how my interaction follows from there- but well, it’s worth taking note of everything innit- she's got new rules here, ones upside down in some ways to others, but, well, if I wanted the same ones I could have stayed at home.
Ever seen a puppy encounter a hedgehog?? It’s kinda a similar situation. It used to make me giggle when my pup would bail up a hedgehog late at night in the garden- all slobbery, inquisitive and wanting to play- but just not really hitting it on the mark for the wee nocturnal mammal who’s like “whhaooh buddy! coming on strong!”. As an International woman you are going to get a lot of attention, but it’s harmless- a little freaky at times, but most peoples intentions and meanings are good- they really want you to pick them to have some attention.
There is a darker side to some of this though also: In a nutshell, emotional blackmail is a psychological-emotional ransom note that says, “if you don't do what I want then I will make you hurt”. This and ‘FOG’; terms coined by psychotherapist Susan Forward, are terminology about controlling people in relationships, and the theory that fear, obligation and guilt (‘FOG’) are the transactional dynamics at play between the controller and the person being controlled. In order for emotional blackmail to occur there must be four things present - a demand, a threat, a blackmailer and a victim. I encountered this at times subversively and at others blatantly (not of physical threat, but emotional)- there’s a lot of this type of thang in serious bartering, yet there is also another simmer here. Kashmiri seem to have this type of pressure from many angles. Emotional warfare comes hand in hand with it’s fraternal twin physical conflict… can you blame people for trying out the less overt tactic on each other and using it as a strategy to get what they want?
This all sounds rather heavy dunnit! It does get easier but being in the middle of a political shit storm with a heavy military presence and social unrest doesn’t have ‘easy relaxed living’ associated with it does it… once I got myself locked and loaded with the basics I was on a roll into quite possibly THE MOST rewarding, incredible, fan-fucking-tastic, extraordinary winter wonderland bag full of epic-ness I’ve had the fortune to experience. Sure, I could have made this easier and gone into a packaged box that had been prefabricated for me, but well, you don't end up going up Kongdoori mountain at night by snowmobile to a bonfire and wazwan feast with your new friends by going the ordinary route do ya?!
Here are some people of special mention that I would like to introduce- I’ve done the vetting, the legwork and I trust these guys. You can call on Tanveer and Mubashir to look after you, show you an incredible time and get you into and around all the hidden secret spots; they’ll circumnavigate the tourist shite for you too if you so direct BOOM. They are genuine and kind and adore what they do. Mubashir knows the Kongdoori mountain like the back of his hand and it is a joy to share their energy and enthusiasm for their culture and passions. Being with them is totally infectious thrilling fun.
LOGISTICS- If you can, bring your gear, if not your board or skis, bring your boots at least. I was lucky as it was Spring to get a board, but wore boots two sizes too big due to lack of supply- manageable for big sweeping runs, but tiring on on the lower cat traps. Get a decent wad of cash from the ATM just outside Srinagar airport exit and for the ladies, you want to bring your monthly products with you girls ;) Altitude sickness? No not reeeeally, but it does take getting used to. Gulmarg township is almost the equivalent of the summit of Ruapehu. I got tired, I got puffed and I found after day three I was feeling more on my game. Just getting up here from Srinagar is an adventure in itself! I had to giggle when I read this on powderhounds.com on the way here… I couldn’t write it better myself lol: ‘Travelling from Srinagar airport to Gulmarg, chaos reigns and road rules seem absent as your transport dodges all manner of obstacles including (but not limited to) oncoming vehicles, pedestrians, military and police checkpoints, herds of goats, wandering cows, packs of dogs, piles of sheep entrails, street stalls, markets, brightly decorated buses with passengers on the roof, diesel belching over-laden trucks, convoys of armoured army vehicles, three legged sheep, random debris, rubbish of every description, flocks of scavenging ravens and hawks, armed soldiers on foot patrol, auto rickshaws, horse drawn carts, human drawn carts and abandoned remains of carts.' Getting the picture?’… hehe… it’s baptism by fire baby- welcome to India waggle waggle, if you have not visited before- trust me, this is only the beginning ;)
If you are prepared for challenges but ones that come with serious rewards, then Gulmarg and Kashmir will pull our all the stops. But then the psychology of us snow lovers is hardy- we don't give up, we’re made from tough stock and take being beaten around a bit on the nose; we’re not going to let impositions impede our plans, and we hang in for the long haul- India, you are fighting with the strong-willed and proud. Yet these two thoughts come back to me time, and time again- both here and in South India. In life, we don't always get what we want on our terms all the time; there are things called compromise, graciousness, patience and compassion that pay mighty dividends and, is it not valuable to appreciate and care for what we currently have before wanting more?.. funnily enough it’s then we realise we always have more than we need.
There's something insanely addictive about this place, it can be so extreme, it can push you right to your limits on every level, but each morning I reset, and the fresh day brings new smiles, contrast and magnificent things to love and cherish. I will come back, late January I have got you eyeballed for another round- but in the meantime, I hope the summer months are peaceful, prosperous and rewarding for my friends from this fair land.
امن اور محبت
Have you ever spent hours of heartfelt investment with beautiful ingredients to bake something incredible only for it to turn out to be a bit of a hot mess?! (forgot the eggs? misread a step? snoozed through the timer…?!) Are you the type of person who gets pissed off, discards everything and dejectedly shoves it into the rubbish or do you dig in regardless with gusto and giggles and a little hope that it wont be as shite as it looks after glaming up the results to the best of your ability?! Nothing like having your fingers covered in something or turning a disaster into a memorable discovery huh?!
To me, India (a very loosely used term here; I'm in no way colouring an entire countries perception with a short time in New Delhi!!) has qualities of a similar incarnation and it's perhaps why I love it so much- I'm all about memorable discoveries. It’s filled with passion and best intentions but it really is a heaving, complex concoction! My experiences are full of surprises and none of the fears I myself, or others projected, but I totally appreciate how this is a very particular animal to take on- to me, it all makes sense in its own way and on its own terms, but it’s in no way ‘easy’ or well baked as such.
I see patterns, colour, fun, logic and love in things which others disregard or are afraid of. India is a wild ride taking you where she wants you to go- the only piece of advice which has had any relevance or truth here was given to me by my wise friend Craig “You know how this works, treat it like an acid trip baby; go with the flow and all will be fine; but fight against it and you will hate the ride”. Honestly, I can't think of a better way to put it. She will give you what you see- if you can spin that into a positive then you will be rewarded ten fold, but focus on the flaws and you could become buried under the tumultuous waves of the realities of life in her rawest, most topsy-turvy manifestation. I acknowledge my gratitude for life comes from a conditioning to accept and understand the chaotic which is a little more unusual than the average, but really, there is just so much to admire. To be honest- I think I love seeming pandemonium because of two things- madness always has method, and I love not knowing things and having new puzzles to figure out; familiarity is not my friend.
Relinquishment. She's your best friend here… and I would say, actually in life in general this quality is by far my most useful. Hold onto preconceptions or bring judgements with you to India and it aint gunna be pretty- there’s a lot of difference if you are being literal in comparisons between where you are from and where you now are. However, If you can find similitude below the superficial and straightforward and into the metaphorical and esoteric, you’ll be onto a winning strategy. Aesthetically, New Delhi is lush, filled with dazzling architecture, stunning parks and vibrant wildlife; she is one of the greenest and most stimulating megalopolises I’ve visited and fuuuucking hell she packs culture punch like no other.
Over the years, I have seen disgruntled travellers bent out of shape within complex environments or at times been so myself, and I have thought- 'this is more than ok for everyone around me, why can’t this work for me?' I’ve learnt, it’s not the place that is messy, it’s more often the perspective of my mind within it and that it is only chaotic until you can fill yourself with local logic- everyone else is managing a system, it’s just different to the alien (that’s the neebie) :) This spin is a good one to be able to whirl when I'm in a foreign environment wanting to do something intense like travelling by motorbike at rush hour after landing in a new locale- because it makes me reflect and focus on configurations and similarities- not what is different, if a person can do this then they are on a sure fire way to finding middle ground, comparability and ultimately a sense of peace. This technique, is in my opinion the 101 of turning furore into fun.
Perhaps a disclaimer is necessary here however- there are many other cofactors and choices I have made in order to sustain a lifestyle like this- I don't drink, I am an experienced judge of character, I've lived and learned about my boundaries through trial and error, I can distinguish structure and rules and have a sensitivity to the ones which can be pushed and ones which must remain etc.. this is what is a bit of a worry to me with things like Instagram, it doesn't tell a back story- people see a post like me hitting clubs here: depending on character, choices and lifestyle, doing this could be incredibly risky for another person… In most instances I keep well away from tourist traps, I rarely stay in hotels and am far more interested in what Mr & Mrs Smith and the locals are up to within my location and I attempt to assimilate into local customs and mannerisms as fast as possible. AirBnB is possibly one of the best things that has happened for expeditions- it has a huge impact on safety and affording a sense of privacy and relative anonymity while travelling; it also presents an opportunity to learn local knowledge and the in's and out's of where you are from your host and community- this is gold. Ya gotta be canny- in upcoming locations there is an increased risk of kidnapping- have you googled your name and seen what a person can view through this? Does your social media profile give the impression someone might pay for you? Are you lax about location tags and travel plans?.. interesting things to keep in mind huh. I play many characters while I travel depending on how comfortable I am within my environment and what level of attention I may want to attract- sometimes there is a lot of incongruity between actions and depiction. In life and especially in travel it can be advantageous to be mercurial.
There is a huge amount coming at ya initially in New Delhi- people stare, people attempt to rip you off, people have a crack at taking you for a ride, there are affronting situations and behaviour, things run on a very different schedule and order- why the fuck would you want to be there some may say?! Because, it’s totally fascinating, how within this it all works, and to be honest, it’s really not that bad- it’s all part of a game. Everyone is trying to make a living and however you roll it, you 'look' like a cash cow- that's the impression anyhow. I see it this way- the person might get to make a little extra off me (definitely it will be a little more than the average local pays)- I want to find a place where that isn't ridiculous. So they get some good karma getting a little extra; they may only have locals for the next week, and I'm a lucky bugger getting to experience new things and selvage some respect within the system. Seriously, no-one’s lost an eye- is it worth getting bent out of shape about? Adjust the strategy for the next round, familiarity takes time ;) You eventually get what you want, where you need to go on time, and somehow, soooomehow in some otherworldly manner the loops link in… but that convoluted path- well I see a lot of extra learning in that squiggly line and I can’t help but to keep wanting to push the envelope to see how far it will all go. Don’t you want to test yourself and see what you can appreciate?!
A societies driving and walking characteristics say a huge amount to me about the underlying psychology of where I am. India is all about looking forwards, self entitlement, shooting the gap and filling space to get somewhere in any way possible now now NOW; traits mirrored in the way the country is growing, some of the major social issues, the ways people interact and the overall development of this nation. I have total admiration for their highly developed sense of spacial awareness however- it's a remarkable and enthralling thing to be immersed within. I’ve seen treadmills being transported by bicycle, cows in the middle of the road, endless people crossing highways (including myself- it’s all in your confidence I tell ya) a windscreen being carried by a passenger on a motorbike, been nearly crushed on one occasion, watched children running along the dividers of the motorway playing balancing games and other wacky eyebrow raising sights, but it has order- yes there's lots of beeping, complete disregard of lanes and relative disregard of traffic signals BUT there are other rules, in someways much more natural rules of flow and hierarchy and of letting others know where you are and how you are coming. It works- you’ll get there- no-one is intending to die.
Positive mind, positive life, looking forwards not back... ok yeah yeah we hear this all the time but it can go waaay to far (this really kind of makes me cringe & I totally don't agree with that last one)… but I think the more important factor in this is actually the digging out of the positive by recognising and evaluating the negative. Yeah, I am a happy go lucky kinda chick, but I’m not living in a bubble. Without experimenting with, imagining and thinking through scenarios, both fabbo through realistic to horrifically bad, we are not facing the realities of life and the consequences within. I would be a very dangerous person within my activities if I hadn't cultured these qualities. This type of expansive recognition to what’s going on, in a way similar to defensive driving, brings about a more compassionate, prepared and balanced way of living to strive for. The actions and skills that are needed within this technique creates successful developments, but I am more and more starting to think in some ways it helps deter the worst of the worst… yes I know this sounds a little superstitious, but honest to God, if I have a creepy inkling and concept and I attempt to hide it, I can be most definitely sure in some way it will become an issue to deal with. Thinking though it, not getting fixated on it. I wonder whether a little of this thought pattern would be helpful here… going forwards with blinkers on leaves a lot of collateral damage behind you.
Self responsibility to moderate one’s expectations, to consciously let go of controlling situations and their outcomes, an ability to take opportunities for completely indirect results, seeing pleasure and finding enjoyment in the wacky, pointless, absurd and wild, honestly recognising humanities flaws (this pinpoints my personal ones also) and social trauma for clearly what it is and ascertaining what I have of value to invest productively within this situation are traits that are very valuable here. India in relativity can be seen as extreme; she is relentless and volatile but I feel calmed by this rather than agitated. When there is so much intensity it is actually easier to find a path through because you just have to; there is no other option. I find something satisfying about having craziness wash past and around me, yet being able to be centred within it (or perhaps I’ve just found my own kind?)- it makes me feel alive and very much within the moment. India is unapologetic, unabashed, totally accurate in it’s in-accurateness and genuine (at times in a backwards I’m gunna rip you off way until you flash your stripes- head waggle waggle) and I have boundless curiosity for people and situations that are authentic and daring.
The fashion, textiles and colours I have seen in Delhi outstrips anything I have seen worldwide.. the only close rival being Japan- they are simply out of this world- the detail, the embroidery, the colour... YYYY.UUUU.MMMM. These shots were taken at the exclusive New Delhi boutique Ogaan.
Recently a beautiful man wanted to enquire about where my thoughts take me; in particular what my fantasies are. It threw me a little- you see, I live them, they are eclectic, spicy, wild, racy and sweet; at times dirty, exotic & chaotic; at others clean, fresh and gentle. They are filled with experiences and people which mirror and reflect my visions; passionate, seductive, individual, provocative, unique, complex, brave, diverse and courageous souls who I treasure. I construct these concepts over months, years and decades, piecing ideas together, following things people say to me, testing out theories, clicking little desires together; working through and looking at apprehensions; by shaping these, they create my reality. Facing things, this is really important- I am blatant within myself at really being honest about what I am up to, what I am thinking, who I am and what needs to be worked on. Fantasies implies make-believe, I don't really understand this- mine are real; I go get them and they come to me.
In another instance a friend asked me who my work derived from; who inspired me. Again I was reflective and a little stumped at the time. I rattled off names of artists I loved- but it's on their own terms that I do so- my work does not look like theirs. And I thought.. yes everything comes from something- but my method is not developmental in such a literal sense. My experiences; my emotions inform my work much more than seeing things. As a I grow older these become more powerful and defined as I learn more about them. I see what is available to me at the time I am feeling creative and how this material fits best with what I want to express; is it tactile? Is it 3D, 2D? Does it challenge me or am I bored by it? Does it relate to a memory? What does it make me feel while I am playing with it? Is it evocative of who I was, who I have become, or where I want to go? These are the things I am asking myself. The technique of expression is then either a development upon an existing skill or requires me to take those attributes and apply them to a new one. My life has a dominant and distinctive strategy however- adventure/ experience, creativity/ production, planning/ plotting and round and round we go…!
A selection of Nepalese and Bangeli deliciousness- predominantly homemade, which ya'll can appreciate is the next level up on mindblowingly tasty made with looooove =^+^= Sushmita I ❤ your cooking!
For example: when I was in Japan early 2015, I knew I wanted to challenge myself to make very detailed large scale 2D artworks. Over those adventures I saw many detailed and amazing works and had exposure to new aesthetics. When I came home midyear I was in Gordon Harris and I came across Gorman graph paper and it reminded me of memories with my father and a fascination I had had with that paper as a child- I liked exploring these and my mathematical mind liked the concept of making images within a framework, but this wasn’t something I had literally seen while I was away. Pulling on my skills in cross-stitch, embroidery, drawing and other mark making techniques and previous talents, I melded them together to create a new process for me. What was different this time though was I wanted to challenge myself to have faith in not planning the composition (I raised the stakes on myself)- I just started making the marks and trusted myself to be guided to create arrangements expressing my thoughts as I went along- this playful, happy, intense, meditative and fun process was new and suited to my headspace, my identity at the time and my accessible assets. So many factors have to be in play for things to work out and I have to make these line up- people; access to resources, income at the time, time itself, my inclinations… to me this is where the true value of the work lies- in my adaptability; this is what makes these unique, irreplaceable and precious. To create to a level of excellence with diversity takes immense dedication; it has taken me decades to create what I do next and this will have direct ties to what is happening now and every single thing that has shaped me to this point.
More and more I recognise patterns and links between how I navigate life and build my ideas. I am constantly feeding bigger concepts with new tidbits of related abstractions, inspiration and direction. These come to me through day-to-day life; sometimes in the strangest of places, but I disregard nothing and file each experience, each learning lesson and concept where it needs to go into the areas I am focused on. It's in the tumultuous curve balls; when it's got really really fucking hot in the kitchen, that the most valuable epiphanies are revealed. I believe every heartfelt investment (it’s our choice if we make these good or bad) is building our lives and orientation- literally constructing how and what comes to us and what we manifest. This is why it is essential to have the freedom to follow and arrange these dots and that we refrain from painting the colours of these for others. Enabling each other to write our stories legitimises who we are, our individual identities and our exclusive purposes.
Most people underestimate the effect of mirror reality; how we behave professionally in most instances has strong ties to our personal lives and vica versa. I adore people who are driven to live authentic unorthodox existences because it demands a consistency of character, an honesty to themselves and those around them, and because it inherently means they treat their loved ones with the same respects. To do this well means developing delicately balanced skills in order to be able to articulate what we need and how we need it without guilt about being unusual or hurting those around us- this is extraordinarily complicated. I find as a woman, seeking balance between ambition and acquiring what I need for a particular reason without endless justification can cause friction and conflict- with others but also with myself; that self destructive/ sabotage tendency can run rather deep in us wee creatives. Balance is easier for me when I am independent, but infinitely more elaborate (but wonderful) when we have grown to be able to incorporate this with partners, lovers and friendships.
Being an only child and very independent from young has meant I had a good hold on being assertive as an individual, but not so good in intimate partnerships. The last few months has challenged me to learn more about being better with those who love me; I needed to learn I cannot control how others feel and how they want to share that, nor is it fair on myself to push them away or restrain their freedom of expression towards me with powerful emotions. Interestingly, I was good at giving this but a total hypocrite at receiving it- we live we learn huh! I can get protective of my pride and defensive of my vulnerability when I feel I have overly exposed my emotions. My pattern in partnerships sees me at times to slip into a differing and more accommodating seat, a place where I inevitably become bored, repressed, uncomfortable or agitated- but with only myself to blame. Being exceptionally accommodating is a rather useful trait within a nomadic and transient life- but it’s not so good when it spills into personal interaction. Learning why I felt this was how I should behave or why I do this has been fascinating and immensely valuable in order for me to not repeat patterns of the past, and to paint a different vibrant future; fear of rejection can come in sneaky packaging.
Life can be totally ironic huh; my greatest fear has also been the thing I am most fascinated and enamoured with- I love to love, but had huge trepidation about being cherished in return. This fear having legitimacy due to past experiences- but something that had the capacity to be very detrimental if I decided I wanted to carry it with me into my present and future. One foot was planted in being scared of the restrictions upon my freedom, another in fears of rejection and increased levels of emotional risk for myself and loved ones- powerful emotions have volatility. It has been a complete revelation to realise that accepting adoration can be unrestrictive and incredibly empowering, but within this there is a responsibility to myself and others to not detrimentally compromise who I am and also to be honest about how I feel, where I stand and what I want to do. We feel certain ways and have instincts for particular reasons to be who we are needed to be; conditional and unconditional love are fascinating siblings.
There has been an internal battle going on between being grateful with what is provided and available, and getting what I require emotionally to be happy in my life for my needs. My expectations on myself of these requirements have been unrealistic and inaccurately appraised- me trying to fit my emotional desires into prefabricated boxes- not good for moi, not good for anyone around me either. To love, to be loved, to whom, how, where; to provide/ to be provided for; how powerful these energies can be.. these can be really touchy topics when they aren’t as others have described or what is the social norm- when I really started feeling these things out my intellectual concepts and my emotional ones were sometimes quite in opposition. I decided, it is not up to me to control my feelings, we can rearrange and question thoughts, but these responsive reactions are hardwired for a purpose. In my opinion, a power much bigger than me decides how these happen and where they takes us- all I can do is recognise each as it’s own and make the best of them within a balanced sense of compromise and contest.
Recently a man discussed with me a concept of how as humans we steal each other's energy. These methods are used to attract emotional attention and investment from one another in order to gain power. These four strategies we all use in varying measure, but we will have a natural preference to one particular way over another depending on our upbringing and conditioning. There is Aloof, Woe is Me, Interrogator and Intimmidator. It has been a fascinating concept for me to ponder, as you have just read, emotional investment and provision have been prominent concepts of recent.
India is helping me become assertive (eek I here some say, you are rather formidable as is)- I’m not talking about an external confidence or vocal sense (although this is needed here as a fair, Western woman- it is just reality that my sex/ skin/ colouring has a big role to play in how I am treated- and seriously, it has far less to do with noise and more to do with presence)- it's an internal strength, a sureness of self and my decisions. Nowhere else would be as perfect to help me work though my thoughts and impressions and develop further in these ways. Just as nowhere else was as perfect as being isolated in a house on top of a cliff in Japan to find a new strategy for communicating my feelings without articulating them through speech. This is the value of travel and pushing that comfort zone to the wall- life slams into full exposure.
Holi was wonderful, although I didn't get half as demo'd as I thought I would- everyone was rather timid and respectful in colouring and drenching me!
My memories from childhood and curiosity with India has spanned decades and it is wonderful that furnishing this passion has brought me to this land now. My love towards those that have assisted me in this adventure- you know who you are, is limitless, but it is also extended to a lifetime of people and situations that have accumulated towards this passion also. As I have become stronger, I have met others also on incredible journeys of discovery- life colliding our trials and tribulations, joys and delights; enabling us to help each other grow through participation and contribution. To share with others and unravel our anxieties and intimacies to me is the kernel of existence. We are reverberations of each other, and when we get this mix right; if the best we can be is what we strive for, then there is only benefit for ourselves and for anyone who encounters us in the process. For this luxury; to be able to explore, live and create while doing what makes me tick, fizz and flourish makes me ecstatic, eternally grateful and empowered.
आपका बहुत बहुत धन्यवाद!
It has been an exciting and demanding few weeks creating and seeking opportunities for India!
I love working with children and young ones one-on-one and sharing my passion for creativity and design. Ever since I was a child I have really enjoyed being a part of days or afternoons of artistic activity; learning new things with other people and sharing and interacting while doing so is really cool, and worthwhile. Ya see, it’s not just about what you are doing, it’s about what you are feeling, talking about with others, sharing and experiencing. It’s about meeting people who challenge you, it’s about meeting people you admire, it’s about seeing things done different ways and it’s about p.l.a.y. ‘engaging in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose’. Invention, ingenuity and creativity comes from doing things differently, and that doesn’t come too well if it’s panicked about an end game (that can tick along in the sidelines and come back in later).
Sitting solitary at a computer or device can teach and impart many things, but it lacks a personal touch and it only gives one thing- it doesn’t share on more than one platform.
Those of you who follow my blog or writing will be well aware of my love of spectrums, juxtapositions and qualities. In this life, there are many, many ways to do the same thing, but they can be greatly varied in the beneficial attributes that each way has. I like doing things that hit many bases. I seek things that help others, help me, do things differently, have challenge, are unusual and have the capacity for exploration both mental and physical.
Here’s a relevant comparison for you of what I mean:
Learning how to paint on an IPad.
Learning how to paint in a workshop over two days with other people in a different environment, culture and language.
What we have in our heads, is far more sophisticated than anything we can can put in our hands or laps ;)
Sooo because I love doing what I do and want to maximise every avenue available in order to share these gifts while I am away, I have done the following:
I’ve approached the Wellington India Association with the invitation to explore connecting me with their contacts in India to set up an artistic connection between Wellington and cities abroad. I offer organised workshops sharing my knowledge and artistic skills with the local community and the opportunity to be a part of my next exhibition. This will be work inspired and possibly partially created in India.
I have introduced myself and offered my time, resources and skills to the following galleries for workshops, cultural exchange and interaction while in India:
Kiriti Gallery- Varanasi
India Art- Pune
Aakriti Art Gallery- New Delhi
I have investigated opportunities through MFAT for new business and cultural relationships between India and New Zealand and how my experience and skills could help construct a new cultural link between both nations. India is advertised as a country high on their priority list to network with and nurture new connections.
I have personally reconnected with people who have expressed interest in this new adventure through existing contacts and by getting out there and making new ones; and have met with those who have wanted to extend their support either financially, through connections or emotionally. That last one being just as important than the first two!
Most wonderfully, I have made new friends and reconnected with people I have met previously on my travels from around the world who are interested and excited to meet up with me in India and share in the incredible things I am going to create and develop while there. These fantastic souls are musicians, entrepreneurs, people invested and working within their community, designers and artists. I am incredibly excited to have the good fortune to have people to meet while in a new country.
But hey, lets get real nitty-gritty eh, for most people it comes down to this, ’what’s in it for me if I help fund your endeavour?’.
I’m going to be frank with you- people who help me do so from the goodness of their heart, and because they like what I create. What is the value of me and my skills in a world based around profit? What is the merit of a person who sees value in things that others disregard? What is the value to the people I encounter, help and spend my time with?
If you read the post Moxie .:’:. I.N.D.I.A recently (later than published) you may have seen I added in information about bigger projects I am working on which have a greater social and community impact than my creations. These trips, these adventures aren’t me just doing art. India is one of the oldest civilisations on the planet and like Japan, I believe there are valuable things to learn from those who have been doing things longer than others. A culture with this much background is a wealth of ideas to draw from- their empires have been built and destroyed many times over- they have developed and gone through commercialisation many more times than the rest of the world- are they not our future? Is India not what we will be, not what we were?
'Sooo' you ask, 'you haven't answered the question, what do I get?' You get to be associated long-term to a genuine, honest, talented woman who has a bigger and better picture for how we do things and how to help keep each other healthy, and come hell or high water is going to do something about it. You get my time, you receive my respect, you have an honest friendship not built on your wallet but of a true debt that I owe you as a human- you need a hand, I’m there- you have access to a wealth of skills and knowledge- lets talk about how we can help each other; and, if you find yourself drawn to a creation of mine- a wonderful unique artwork. This isn’t everyones thing- if you want a association to the 'art world', galleries and the lifestyle that entails I’m not your woman. But if you can see a bigger picture with me and are curious to seeing how I’m going to pan out and want to be part of it; if you trust me to follow through with what I say, if you see I am genuine in my activity to help others and subsequently work on the ideas I have to build & change things, then you my friend are the type of person I’d like to talk to.
Don't take me for granted- I'm more than what you may expect. Be creative, take a risk, look a little closer...
Totally unexpectedly (but right on point!) this evening I came across the exquisite film 'Ship of Theseus'.
'Life is Art' and 'Sharing is Caring' are sentiments I live by. This film champions not only these aphorisms but the more expansive concepts of interconnection and kismet that I embrace.
Ship of Theseus is an eloquent and tender cinematic illustration of the tapestry of interrelation- quite possibly one of the best I have ever seen, if not THE best- yes, very big call, but it really is that good.
I encourage you to take the time to watch this; cinematically it is stunning but the messages within are profound, pertinent and heartfelt.
LION ... I don't know what to say, words just don't come up to par.
I didn't 'watch' this movie, I rode a wave of emotion along with it as it tugged and directed all my heart strings. It's absolutely bloody brilliant and incredibly moving.
These also come highly recommended for ya oogling O-o
I am relentlessly committed to extending myself, pushing the boundaries and propelling my creative abilities with fresh perspectives; Yeeep, I’m off again... and this time it's I.N.D.I.A
2016 was a very challenging year for me as I came back to NZ to deal with serious health concerns. But I'm glad I did for I healed myself to become stronger, wiser and ready for another chapter. For me to be well physically, mentally, spiritually and to be happy, I have to find the next step up; the next challenge. Sitting still or conceding to being comfortable is not an option. I am persistent in my compulsion to want to progress; to experience new things and create new relationships. Last year, in addition to mending, creating new work and planning new achievements, I used my time home in 2016 to mentor and help other people and creatives one-on-one. To have this opportunity was incredibly valuable; for others, for myself and for the community as a whole.
The most joy in my life comes from being able to share my time and gifts with people who appreciate them; the most misery from when I get tangled up thinking of myself. My spirit and diverse repertoire is seen internationally as precious, commendable and to be celebrated; but alas, on home soil, my talents and personality is not as understood nor acclaimed. This 'acclaim' isn't as you may think in a traditional back patting award sense, it's just day to day being me. Although I adore NZ, I let out a big breath as soon as I board an international flight! My urge and impulse to travel and to move is a necessity because I love sharing my good fortune, but it is also to feel valued in return.
My commitment to my artistic development was proven over the MOXIE .:':. JAPAN indiegogo crowdfunding endeavour. Not only did I fulfil my aims and objectives, but I exceeded them and publicised my achievements through regular detailed updates on my blog. Upon returning to NZ via Canada, I created and self funded a solo show of new work and then returned, again self funded, a month later to Japan as Artist in Residence at MeiPAM Gallery.
I discovered, nurtured and developed this opportunity and it is a testament to my follow through and devotion to my dreams. Finishing up in Japan late 2015, I then again took the bull by the horns buying a one way ticket to London and subsequently on to the Netherlands via Spain, exploring creative directions, networks and new cultures. I met an incredible group of intellectuals in Amsterdam which had a profound affect on my decision to come home and extend my skills to those around me. This is not the start of something new, but another chapter in a book thick with sharing my gifts with others, either at home or abroad. New networks and experiences don't just impact upon me, they affect whoever I touch next in a positive and productive manner. Encounters shape and refine how and what we think, feel and behave like, and when these are demanding and stimulating, they challenge us to change and grow. Relationships forged by sharing time together are tremendously powerful- we can’t forget those we laughed, dined or adventured with, but we sure can dismiss an email.
I am extremely proactive towards exploring avenues for investment including applying for grants, approaching galleries, crowdfunding, auctions, online sales, selling all of my possessions and completely altering my lifestyle. Conditioning myself psychologically, physically and with more skills to be ready for different situations takes commitment and dedication. I am constantly doing things and doing them differently to keep on edge and learning. My journeys are hard work. I source work, budget within parameters and constantly reevaluate situations within what is presented and available at the time. I have always garnered a great sense of satisfaction from bringing about amazing results out of a bag of limited resources, but since Japan, I have pushed this much, much further by purposely refining my avenues and techniques. I find it is extremely rewarding to confront myself with need v want, assess my presumptions and ignorance and subsequently reevaluate my thoughts and reasonings. I never waste an opportunity and I live with no regrets.
I am unusual in my travel methods. A one way flight and first two nights accommodation organised is how I like to start. I push myself to use this level of trial as an advantage because it makes me make the most of where I am and what I see. It lets me interact with people I meet along the way and make decisions based on these encounters. It is me living by my advice to ‘go-with-the-flow'. Plus in this day and age, why not? We have so many options available it’s a smorgasbord selection.I am open and transparent in my ambitions to create achievement from adversity and inspiring others to do the same.
Missing out on one of the 10 grants up for opportunity from the Asia New Zealand Foundation specifically for artist residencies was challenging. Especially as they were to support ‘new relationships’ between Japan and New Zealand- My application was declined as AsiaNZ did not ‘know’ MeiPAM Gallery. I had previously applied for support prior to my first trip to Japan under their 'Contestable Arts Grants'. These are 10 grants of up to a maximum of $2,000 each, per grant round for arts organisations and arts professionals to support projects that contribute to New Zealanders’ understanding of Asian arts and culture. This application was also was declined.
Grant applications, funding opportunities and networking through Creative New Zealand takes an enormous amount of time and resources. To some, my approaches may be unorthodox but my genuine nature, authenticity, honesty and work ethic is not. I value, respect, appreciate and cherish the people & organisations that support my undertakings, and I am privileged to have these qualities reflected back to me. My level of discretion, honesty and privacy may make me unusual to some within the industries I work in, but it is also precisely why I am able to meet and work with exceptional and unique individuals- I treat others how I would like them to extend their respect in return. I do what I say I am going to do to the highest standard and I do it fast. If there was an opportunity to be an ambassador for championing the creative arts and creating new relationships internationally based on practical knowledge and professionalism, I would be fighting for that role... actually that's why I am making a role.
I give back in many ways with my time, with my open availability to share my knowledge, through my writing to inspire others to explore, facilitating and conducting creative workshops, and by providing gifts of art to my sponsors and those who help me. My friends, references, former employers and associates can all vouch for my diligence, heartfelt investment and willingness to share my insights and develop further with enthusiasm. I am passionate about living to my fullest capacity doing what I love and encouraging others to do the same by broadening our horizons and sharing fresh impressions with those around us, and the world, through expressions and interaction. I also demonstrate that the 'old' one-on-one way of meeting people still works wonders, and although 'harder' work (is it when we love it?!), I would argue these relationships are faaaar more meaningful, precious and enduring. I don't need 100's of people to do amazing things; quality over quantity works exceptionally over many fields in my life. I motivate others to have the courage and tenacity to establish and substantiate their ambitions on their own terms, and help hands on with valuable and relevant strategies, skills, networks and perspectives. Where there is a will, there is always a way, and I love proving that those can be varied and different.
Creating art is a small portion of the creative enterprises I have in production. I am working on much more complex projects with societal and community influence, and these trips; this exposure to other cultures, directly impacts upon these. New Zealand is a distinctive and diverse multi-cultural society with a unique cultural repertoire and capacity for creativity- but there are gaping holes in the support available for those who want to undertake developing these talents without sacrificing their morals, integrity and virtue or to get access to capital for unusual, ambitious and ingenious personal developments. One project, very dear to my heart addresses this issue and another our access to the building blocks of what is needed to keep minds healthy and happy in order to be able to think outside the box, combat anxiety and be productive. This commercial endeavour is about establishing a creative hub within our urban areas- a market and galleria of-a-type but muuuuuuch more. Bringing back to our communities a place where people feel comfortable to choose quality products at a fair price, learn new ways to use them, meet with the local artisans and producers who make and develop them, and interact with other people while doing so.
Mental health and wellbeing is greatly influenced by interaction; as technology infiltrates further into our daily living (NZ being at the forefront internationally with this), it is becoming increasingly important that people have situations encouraging them to connect with their neighbours and surroundings. This combats feelings of isolation, detachment and loneliness; emotional responses which are becoming increasingly prevalent within our population- yes, it's a much bigger picture than just getting your goodies. Developing the qualities of usefulness, self respect and good citizenship requires imparting the skills to success at the basics- when physical and mental health is in flow we can move onto taking the next step up on ladders towards these attributes. In addition, I aim to have New Zealand artists and designers fully interconnected within the production process through label designs, packaging and manufacturing- creating opportunities for graduates, established creatives and those without formal education but incredible aptitude to gain exposure of their talents. If this piques your curiosity, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Again self funded, I intend to leave by the end of February or very early March for New Delhi, Jaipur, Varanasi, Udaipur, Pune and Leh (and some other surprising places!!)… but as ya’ll have seen before this will only be the beginning!
I invite you to have a look through my artwork for sale and hope you feel compelled to join with me in my new adventure.
I’d love you to pass my details on to friends and associates who you think may also be interested. I am available to talk with people in person about the merits of my venture and the value that my undertakings extend to society.
Please do contact me if you would like to commission me for an artwork or concept, I am always accommodating at working with people to create their visions; my repertoire is broad and diverse.
To a year of adventure, challenge and excitement!
And I'm rather thrilled to have one of my photos taken in the Netherlands as part of the new Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May show; 'The Grand Tour' which is planned to air in NZ in December through Amazon Prime. Look out for Episode 5... or keep an eye on this nifty wee sight THE GRAND TOUR